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Reducing Self-Harm

Unit(s) of assessment: Social Work and Social Policy

Research theme: Health and Wellbeing

School: School of Social Sciences


Improving self-help for one of the most complex mental health issues

Around 220,000 emergency department visits each year are from people who have self-harmed. Aside from the impact on the individual, these visits place a significant cost on health care services and an emotional burden on staff. Our research is geared to new strategies that support people who self-harm and understanding their motivations.

Young people, adults in secure psychiatric facilities and offenders in custody are a particular concern for mental health teams. By understanding the best ways to support them, we can use resources more effectively to target these groups most at risk.

Addressing the Challenge

Achieving broad benefits beyond the individual

Our research doesn’t just help people who are at risk of harming themselves. One women's prison has saved over £500,000 over 3 years thanks to our suggestions. And health care staff feel more confident supporting people who self-harm.

Our research is funded by:

  • Primary Care Trusts
  • Clinical Commissioning Groups
  • Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)


Professor Di Bailey leads the research team. We collaborate with GPs, hospitals, prisons, and the national women’s forensic service.

"It is Important that we understand how to support those who self-harm so healthcare professionals can use self-help strategies more effectively." Professor Di Bailey

Making a Difference

Expertise from every perspective

We involve everyone in our work. People who self-harm have contributed to the project with self-care packs, a blog site, staff training, and research papers. Those involved have all reported positive feelings towards their work with our projects.