Over 200 people gathered in St Patrick’s University Hospital today on Self-Injury Awareness Day for St Patrick’s Mental Health Services and Pieta House’s annual Self-Harm Awareness Conference, which aims to bring awareness to and educate on the topic of self-harm.
Now in its fourth year, the annual conference, which is aimed at healthcare professionals, social care and education providers, parents, carers, policy makers and influencers was created as a way to increase awareness and understanding around self-harm and is held every year to coincide with self-injury awareness day.
The conference follows on from self-harm figures that St Patrick’s Mental Health Services and Pieta House drew attention to earlier in the week, highlighting the current landscape of self-harm in Ireland, particularly among young people.
St Patrick’s Mental Health Services CEO, Paul Gilligan, said:
“We are delighted to be hosting the fourth annual Self-Harm Awareness Conference alongside Pieta House, one of our key partners. Five years ago we couldn’t discuss self-harm and now we’re here and speaking openly about what is a key mental health and wellness issue. We must continue to support people who self-harm by listening to them so that they are able to share their stories openly and without prejudice, by helping them to understand the meaning behind their distress and by helping to make change in their lives.”
Senior Clinical Director at Pieta House, Lena Lenehan, said:
“We are delighted to partner up with St Patrick’s Mental Health Services once again to co-host the fourth Self-Harm Awareness Conference in Dublin. This one-day event is dedicated to exploring what we know about self-harm, what to look out for and what directions need to be taken. The variety of speakers provides a practical mix of presentations for teachers, parents, young people and mental health professionals. The aim of the day is to enable those attending the opportunity to learn the tools and skills to respond to presentations of self-harm, whether faced with them in the classroom, the home or in the community."
This year’s conference explored topics such as self-harm and suicide in young people, opportunities for intervention, practical guidance for parents and teachers on dealing with presentations of self-harm and innovation and understanding and responding to self-harm.
Ellen Townsend, Professor of Psychology at the University of Nottingham and Lead of the Self-Harm Research Group, who delivered the keynote speech ‘Innovation in Understanding and Responding to Self-Harm: The Card Sort Task’ speaking at the conference said:
“Self-harm in young people is complex, it evolves and changes over time. We hope to be able to capture the complexity and evolution of self-harm to permit an informed an agile therapeutic response.”
“Work from us, as Commissioners of Services, show that the key factors that lead to self-harm are modifiable with existing talk therapies – we need to ensure that young people can access these therapies through services,” she added.
For the first time, the conference also explored self-harm in the LGBTI+ community – where rates of self-harm are twice as high as non-LGBTI+, with Monnine Griffith, BeLonG To Executive Director, delivering a presentation on how youth work reduces rates of self-harm among LGBTI+ young people.
Other speakers that presented on the day included;
- David Keegan, CEO and Co-Founder of First Fortnight
- Professor Ella Arensman, Chief Scientist, National Suicide Research Foundation
- Dr Eve Griffin, Research Fellow, National Suicide Research Foundation
- Richard Booth, Director of Psychology, St Patrick’s Mental Health Services
- Siobhán Leijen and Sinéad Raftery, Pieta House