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Heads Above The Waves launch booklet to help young people hospitalised by self-harm

A booklet to provide support and advice for young people who have been admitted to hospital as a result of self-harm has been launched at Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for Wales in Cardiff.

Heads Above The Waves (HATW), a Cardiff based non-profit organisation, have developed the booklet which is designed to be part advice and inspiration for young people, and part practical workbook. The booklet features sections for young people to complete themselves to help aid them in their recovery journey.

HATW co-founder Si Martin said “We’re really proud of this new resource. It’s something that’s come from real people with lived experience to hopefully help someone else in the same position.

“We put drafts out to the public for comment, and made revisions based on what people said. I like that idea; we’re just bringing together thoughts from other people who’ve been there and come out the other side. I think authenticity is a super important element. When you feel like someone else has been there and gets it, it’s a very powerful thing – to know you’re not alone can make a world of difference.”

Hospital admissions from self-harm have drastically risen in England and Wales over the last 20 years, particularly among girls under the age of 17. In 2017, 13,463 young people were admitted to hospital compared to 7,327 in 1997.

The booklet came about from a regional level meeting that feeds into the National Advisory Group to Welsh Government, who released ‘Talk To Me 2’ – an action plan for helping prevent suicide and self-harm in Wales. It was here that Hannah Morgan, co-founder of HATW, noticed that there was a distinct voice from the hospital staff, in need of resources and support for young people getting admitted to hospital as a result of self-harm or a suicide attempt.

Hannah said, “Our hope for this booklet is that it can be a help to the hospital staff as much as the young people it’s aimed at.  Our ethos has always very much been that we want to speak to young people on their level, and ultimately provide the kind of information and advice that we would have wanted when we were struggling. HATW comes from our personal experience, and the experience of those that we talk to – so we’re hopeful that someone who reads this might find their way of dealing with whatever waves life throws their way.”

Adele Watkins, Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said:

“Emotional wellbeing and support for children and young people is so important. As a Health Board our aim is to ensure children and young people get the support they need before reaching hospital but unfortunately there are some circumstances where a young person requires care or treatment in hospital.

“The Heads Above The Waves booklet will be a helpful resource when young people need that extra support and advice especially as it features advice from others than have been through similar circumstances. We are really happy to be supporting this launch which will enable us to provide resources to our patients when they need it.”

HATW have been promoting creative, positive alternatives to self-harm since 2013. Today’s release of this new booklet marks the next step of growth for the small Community Interest Company who also deliver school workshops, a website and social media presence, and have a shop in The Castle Emporium in Cardiff where they sell merchandise with a message.