Based on our research, and the work of others, we have developed some guidelines to help schools address NSSI in their own context. These guidelines are meant to generate discussion when education departments and schools are developing and/or revising policy, and must be considered in light of overarching departmental policies, ethical and legal frameworks. [download here]

School policy for responding to students who self-injure

 

It is recommended that all schools have clear guidelines and a policy regarding how teachers and other school staff should respond to students who self-injure or are suspected of self-injuring. It is important for school policy regarding self-injury to be clearly communicated with, and readily accessible to, teachers and other school staff. Although school policy regarding self-injury will differ by region and school, there are some central issues that should be considered when developing or reviewing school policy regarding self-injury. 

School policy regarding NSSI should address the following issues:

 

  • Distinguish NSSI from suicide, and provide general information about the nature and extent of NSSI

  • Identify the roles and responsibilities of teachers and other school staff

  • Describe the warning signs that may signal that a student has self-injured.

  • Outline how teachers and other school staff should initially respond to students who self-injure

  • Describe when teachers and other school staff should report students who self-injure or are suspected of self-injuring.

  • Outline to whom teachers and other school staff should report students who self-injure or are suspected of self-injuring (e.g., school counsellor).

  • Outline what feedback should be provided to the teacher or other school staff member who initially referred the student.

  • Outline who is responsible for conducting the initial risk assessment with students who self-injure (e.g., school counsellor).

  • Describe who is responsible for conducting follow-up risk assessments with students who self-injure  (e.g., school counsellor).

  • Describe when students who self-injure should be referred to an external mental health professional.

  • Describe when students who self-injure should be referred to emergency mental health services.

  • Outline when and how parents of students who self-injure should be notified about the behaviour.

  • Detail how to prevent contagion of NSSI among students.

  • Describe how teachers and other school staff can care for themselves.