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Self-Harm Affects Countless Teens — Are Schools Doing Enough to Prevent It?

While mental health has come into the spotlight in recent years, most conditions remain highly stigmatized. Those who have depression are often misunderstood, seen as “weak,” and those with anxiety are considered to be “worrywarts” or “dramatic.” However, those who self-harm are some of the most judged. People see self-injurers as “attention-seeking manipulators.” Or they think, “only goth or emo kids cut.” But not only are these beliefs inaccurate; they are flat-out wrong.

According to Mental Health America, 15 percent of teens have self-harmed. However, a new report reveals that in spite of its high occurrence rate, most schools are ill-prepared to handle or address this situation.

More: I Was a Teenage Cutter — & This Is What Parents Need to Know

According to the study, conducted by researchers in England and Wales and published in the journal Child and Adolescent Mental Health, only 53 percent of the secondary schools surveyed received training on self-harm and less than 25 percent rated the adequacy of training as high.

Lead author Dr. Rhiannon Evans of Cardiff University said in a statement that this information is troubling at best.

“Adolescent self-harm is a major concern in the UK,” Evans said, “and our study reports the extent to which schools are involved in managing incidents of disclosure or detection. Rather worryingly, school staff are not yet receiving comprehensive training to support students,” as there were (and are) several key barriers schools must overcome, including time constraints, resource limitations, lack of staff training and the generalized fear that discussing self-harm will encourage said behavior.

That said, Evans did note there were “positive findings… however, not least the extent to which schools see themselves as an appropriate site to provide prevention and intervention activities.”

More: Don’t Write Teen Depression Off as Angst

According to Evans, “[W]e need to do more.” You can say that again.

If you or someone you know is self-injuring and/or cutting, contact Crisis Text Line by texting “HOME” to 741-741 or visit for referrals to therapists and tips on how to stop.

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