Understanding and managing self-harm: resources for schools

Looking for resources to help students or staff who self harm? Here are some useful starting points

School staff are not normally trained medical or mental health professionals, but are often the first point of contact for pupils who require social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) support.

After such an unsettled and uncertain year, it’s no surprise that delegates at our recent SEND Leadership conference reported that self-harm is a growing concern, especially among SEND/SEMH pupils.

With Self-Injury Awareness Day (#SIAD; 1st March) in mind, here’s a round-up of relevant resources in our blog and knowledge centre, as well as useful links to other organisations.

A selection of Optimus Education mental health and wellbeing resources

Self-harm and self-injury

Self-harm: six things to consider outlines key things schools need to consider when supporting their students.

Understanding and supporting self-harm is a webinar, with additional resources, by Dr Pooky Knightsmith, offering guidance on identifying and supporting pupils who self-harm or who are at risk of self-harming and on developing whole-school initiatives.

Understanding and recognising self-harm and Responding to self-harm are short CPD video presentations by Nicola Harvey that raise awareness and look at ways to explore responding to pupils who may be self-harming.

Managing self-harm is a short online training course for any staff member seeking to identify, understand and respond to self-harm.

How to talk to parents about… self-harm focuses on communicating this difficult subject to parents.

Leading mental health and wellbeing

Designated mental health and wellbeing lead: guidance and resources supports those responsible for both staff and pupils.

Mental health and wellbeing lead skills audit helps to evaluate the skills and knowledge needed to fulfil the responsibilities of a wellbeing lead.

Pupil mental health and wellbeing: guidance for staff helps teachers and others to recognise potential mental health issues among young people in their care.

Quality interventions for SEMH offers practical tips and resources for implementing quality SEMH interventions.

Further wellbeing support

Our regular conferences on the topic of wellbeing provide research, pedagogy and practical strategies to meet the needs of young people affected by challenging circumstances, anxiety, or social, emotional, mental health issues.

And our Wellbeing Award for Schools, in partnership with the National Children’s Bureau, provides a framework for putting mental health and wellbeing at the heart of school life.

A selection of links to other resources

Self-harm and self-injury

Self-Injury Awareness Day (#SIAD), on 1st March every year, draws attention to self-injury in particular, a type of self-harm defined as ‘any deliberate, non-suicidal behaviour that inflicts physical harm on the body with the aim to relieving emotional distress’. It provides a range of resources, from fact sheets to fridge magnets, for people who self-injure and those who wish to know more.

Self Injury Support provides resources, tools, training and support around self-injury. 

Harmless offers self-harm and suicide prevention services.

Alumina is a free interactive online course for teenagers who self-harm or fear they might.

Dr Pooky Knightsmith has a variety of resources covering self-harm, including podcast episodes, books, videos, courses and handouts.

Supporting mental health and wellbeing

The DfE’s guidance on Mental health and behaviour in schools.

MindEd Hub has a range of resources to promote mental wellbeing in various educations settings. 

Mental Health Learning provides mental health, self-harm and suicide prevention training, help and advice.

Charlie Waller Trust can work with schools and colleges to offer mental health training to pupils, parents, teachers, volunteers, boards, governors, managers and employees.

YoungMinds 360° Schools Programme helps schools to achieve best practice in wellbeing and resilience.


Last Updated: 
10 Nov 2021