Self harm is a growing concern in the UK with rates of 1 in 9 teenagers self harming (National Inquiry 2006) and possibly as many as 1 in 5 (Affinity/NHS 2008). Black British and mixed race girls have high rates of self harm, which has been linked to domestic violence, family breakdown, socio-economic deprivation and gang related sexual violence and teenage pregnancy. Rates of domestic violence and incidents of teenage sexual violence and risks of honour based violence are rising nationally. Young people in these situations are impacted in the short term through mental health issues and risky coping behaviours, and in the longer term through a cycle of disadvantage which includes poor educational achievement and life chances and higher rates of mental health life issues and suicide ideation. Cuts in services and support have resulted in critical effects.
The WISH Centre was founded around 15 years ago to support young people who were self-harming and has developed into a community-based service to support young people on a path to recovery. The WISH Centre provide a range of services to keep children and young people safe and supported. This includes therapy – in school, after school at our centres and online. We run award winning Self Harm Peer Support groups where young people can get extra support, safeguarding measures and wrap around services.
We completed a two year pilot replicating our offer in the London Borough of Harrow in the London Borough Merton. This was evaluated by Government think-tank the Centre for Mental Health. The results of the evaluation demonstrate the success rates of 90% recovery from self harm that has been previously demonstrated and continues in Harrow, which has been replicated in Merton.
Attendance of A&E for self-harm was markedly reduced and statistically significant positives outcomes were demonstrated for young people in both Harrow and Merton across a range of outcomes (i.e. self-harm, suicidal
ideation, abuse, trauma, anxiety/stress, depression/ sadness, coping mechanisms & emotional resilience).
Centre for Mental Health concludes that the approach offered by The WISH Centre is both successful and replicable. The evaluation report recommends that services using the WISH approach should be made available across the country, drawing on the benefits of peer support networks and evidence-based psychological therapies, which were both found to have a positive impact on young people at WISH.
The children we work with are incredible. Despite many suffering from domestic or sexual violence and abuse, exploitation and being at risk of serious harm from themselves or others, they will find a resilience and determination to keep going, even if this means self harming as a means of coping.
Children and young people we meet may have undergone trauma and may have been exploited, abused or neglected. Some have suffered physical harm and have mental health issues or are living in poverty or in fear of their safety.
The work of our dedicated team of psychotherapists, outreach and youth workers is vital to ensure that the young people are supported and empowered, and that they not only achieve positive outcomes to overcome the impact of their experiences but also that their voices are heard in terms of shaping the services and help they get from WISH and others.
We believe that we are all effective together. From working with partners in social care, education, health and the community to improve aspects of support for young people, to improving awareness of issues and skills through training, together we are making a real difference to children’s futures.
The visibility of our impact is seen in “A Space to Talk: An Evaluation of The WISH Centre’s Self harm services to young people “by the Centre for Mental Health 2018. A key recommendation of the report is that our methodologies are adopted nationwide, and our aim is to deliver this through capacity building and training.