In all cases, practitioners should follow their organisation’s policies and procedures related to self-injury, incident response and occupational health and safety.
Where a finds a practitioner finds a young person actively self-injuring they should:
- approach the young person in a calm and respectful manner
- engage the young person verbally (eg: ask them if they’re ok?)
- remain in the general vicinity to maintain an awareness of the situation and continue to monitor
- inform other staff on duty of incident and
- monitor and manage other young people in the residential environment
To avoid accidental injuries to either worker or the young person, it may be safer not to restrain a young person or remove implements being used to self-injure; be guided by organisation policy.
What to do after the young person has self-injured:
- Reassure the young person and respond to them in a calm and respectful manner and request to see the injury
- To avoid accidental injuries to either worker or the young person, it may be safer not to restrain a young person or remove implements being used to self-injure; be guided by organisation policy.
- Assess the environment and follow standard precautions when providing first aid, disposing of implements used to self-injure or soiled materials (eg: blood spills)
Assess the extent of the injury and in consultation with the young person and medical support either:
- assist the young person to self-manage first aid to their injury if minor
- provide first aid if requested by the young person or severity of wound requires or
- access external health services (eg: ambulance, medical clinic, hospital emergency department)
- If the wound is deemed serious or life threatening, decision making regarding the required medical care may cease to be optional for the young person
Advocate for the young person to ensure they receive a professional response when in contact with ambulance, hospitals or other health professionals and services
Assess the intent of the self-injuring episode (re: to release a feeling, suicide ideation, etc) as well as the immediate risk of the young person self-injuring further
A young person who self-injures may require a counselling session post injury. The session could include a reflection of the context of the self-injuring behaviour, the triggers, outcomes of the behaviour and possible strategies to try in the future. If it is the first time the young person has self-injured it is a crucial opportunity for psychoeducation, de-mystifying, reducing shame, normalising, and making a plan for the future.
Seek consent from the young person to inform relevant health and support workers of their self-injury.