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NICE issues new updates to guidance on self-harm

New guidelines set out by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have been shared on self-harm, particularly for those working in education and the criminal justice system, in order to help combat mental health issues at an earlier stage and more effectively.

NICE is also targeting the guidance towards those working in primary care, non-mental health emergency departments and those working in a general hospital or social care setting, to ensure that there is a standard, effective quality of care for those self-harming.

The guidance, which has been updated for the first time in 11 years, sets out the ‘responsibilities for non-mental health specialists when caring for people who self-harm’.

NICE have recommended that after initial care, non-professionals should then go on to organise a comprehensive psychosocial assessment which aims to develop a relationship with the affected person, begin to understand the persons reasons for causing themselves harm, ensuring the person receives the help they need and supplying the person and their family information about their condition.

Dr Paul Chrisp, Director of the Centre for Guidelines at NICE, said: “Self-harm is a growing problem and should be everyone’s business to tackle – not just those working in the mental health sector.

“It is important that our committee has made recommendations for education and criminal justice settings as data in the past few years has shown that people working within these sectors would benefit from clear guidance about how they should help someone who is self-harming.

“These guidelines set out a way for every person who self-harms to be able to get the support and treatment they need.”

Self-harm is defined as ‘intentional self-poisoning or injury irrespective of the apparent purpose of the act’ and can happen at any age but currently is most common in young people in England.

The current guidance recommends cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), a psychological intervention specifically structures for adults who self-harm.

You can find more on self-harm guidance for non-professionals here.

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NHE May/June 2024

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