Play tackles growing issue of self-harm in Leeds

Nicola Etoria in Fix This
Nicola Etoria in Fix This
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A PLAY about self-harm is to be performed to young people and teachers across Leeds in a bid to tackle the issue.

Latest figures show there were 238 admissions of young people to Leeds hospitals due to self-harm in the 12 months from April 2013, and 208 attendances at A&E.

This shows a small increase on the previous year, with experts from children’s services in the city working to address the situation, including commissioning the play by arts and health organisation Space2.

Ruth Gordon, project manager for children and maternity services for Leeds Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: “We recognised that self-harming is an escalating issue within the Leeds area, and invited Space2 to come up with a creative way of raising awareness within schools and the wider community.

“It’s very important to support parents and carers and to talk with the young people in their lives about all sorts of mental health issues including self-harming behaviours.

“We hope this performance and workshop will give families the chance to have wider conversations about the issues raised.”

Space2 commissioned playwright Emma Adams to write a one-woman show called Fix This, which will be performed to 14 to 16-year-olds, teachers, parents and carers, at secondary schools until Christmas. It has been funded by Jimbo’s Fund through Leeds Community Foundation.

Dawn Fuller, Space2’s strategic manager said: “We commissioned this play to challenge and inform young people, their families and teachers about the increase in self-harming and where to go for advice and support.”

Nick Jacques, senior leader at Carr Manor Community School in Meanwood, said: “This is an issue for all schools, across all demographics and among young people of all backgrounds. Anything we can do to intervene at an early stage will be part of a bigger picture which involves working with specialised services.”

* The views of teenagers helped shape the new play raising awareness of self-harm.

Playwright Emma Adams talked to young people including at Brigshaw High School in Allerton Bywater, a young people’s advisory group on mental health and a drop-in centre in Leeds, as well as talking to parents of teenagers who self-harm.

“People allowed me to come in and ask questions, they took a risk and showed tremendous generosity. It became clear to me that some young people are simply focused on getting through the day without self-harming – it’s a massive challenge for them.”

The writer said she was keen that the play did not “lecture”: “Young people are not interested in being told what to think.”

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