Addressing self-harming behaviour

Last updated: 10 Mar 2020 Topics: Mental health and wellbeing Athlete wellbeing

This briefing on addressing self-harming behaviour (PDF) provides guidance for people in sports organisations on supporting young people who may be intentionally damaging or injuring themselves.   

Author: NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU)
Published: March 2020


Self-harm is when somebody intentionally damages or injures themselves. It is often a way of dealing with difficult feelings, painful memories or overwhelming situations and experiences.  It is thought to affect around 1 in 5 young people.

People involved in sport and activity can help by:

  • recognising self-harming behaviour
  • knowing how to talk with a young person who may be self-harming
  • referring the young person to support services

Sports organisation should aim to create a healthy environment where it is understood that everyone needs to look after their mental health and wellbeing in the same way that we look after our physical health.

Download the briefing (PDF)

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