Teaching and supporting a student who self harms can be tough.
****** joined my school when she was in the sixth form. Intelligent and talented she was a hardworking student. She joined, disclosing issues and accessing support through CAMH although her previous school only highlighted concerns with her attendance record. At the end of the first term she hid in the school toilets and self harmed. Staff found her and the nursing team took her to hospital. She gained support over the break and returned to school for the spring term. We as a school had good communication with parents and CAMH so were aware of her support plan and coping mechanisms and her staff juggled her weekly meetings for CBT. On the outside the school was dealing with it fantastically, being supportive and accommodating. However……..
There were days that ******** disclosed and showed her self harm to other member of staff who had not previously been in the loop. They didn’t teach her. So we had to consider sharing her info to support staff without breaking confidently. There were also times when her self harm was evident to other students. She did DTE as an Alevel subject and would have to tie her hair back for safety. The subject is an open workshop with 11 yr olds sometimes working in the same space as 18yr olds. ****** knew that everyone could see her neck and would have open discussion with the teachers on how best to deal with this. She wasn’t ashamed of her self harm but then she knew how others could judge her. She had a younger sister and was concerned that she would influence her and her friends. As a school we need to support ALL students. Looking back I am not sure that we got this right as some younger students did get upset but………..so to help with this ****** wanted to do an assembly to educate other students. We collaborate with CAMH and had a date in the diary but unfortunately she overdosed the week before and spent the next three weeks on a ward. Again I am not sure that we got this right, I don’t think she had addressed her own demons enough to publicly speak about it to the whole school.
While she was in the ward we sent school work and I visited her. The ward had 40 students all like ******, juggling school work with CBT. As a school we want to say, forget A levels concentrate on yourself but time and time again we are told by the experts and the student that school work and normality are one of the things that seems to help.
******* returned to school although on a reduced timetable. She excluded herself from social events and got upset when people talked about her. ( even if they were just showing concern) Obviously a hard one for schools, we can’t stop gossip but we try to reduce the fuel to the fire by discussing mental health in PSHE.
Exams came and went and ****** gained some sound grades although not what she was truly capable of.
What I am trying to say is that we knew about her mental health issues, referred her, she had help yet still I feel like we failed her. Are we doing enough? Are we actually addressing the issues?