Information for families and carers

If you are a family member or caring for someone who is self-harming, healthcare professionals providing treatment and care for your family member or friend should ask the person whether they would like you to be involved in their care. However, healthcare professionals should respect your family member or friend's privacy if they would prefer to cope on their own.

If your family member or friend agrees to you being involved, you should be offered information about self-harm and about how you can support them throughout their treatment.

As a family member or carer, you may need help and support yourself. Healthcare professionals should offer you information, including contact details, about local family and carer support groups and other voluntary organisations, and help you to make contact with them. You should also be offered information and contact numbers about what to do and whom to contact in a crisis. As a carer you should be told about your right to a formal carer's assessment of your own physical and mental health needs, and how to access this.

Information for parents of children and young people who self-harm

This information covers the care and treatment that children and young people should be offered for self-harm, described in 'Information for children and young people who self-harm'. The longer-term treatment for self-harm for children and young people should be provided in a centre that specialises in mental health problems in children and young people. If you are distressed about your child's self-harming behaviour, or your child is distressed, you should be offered an appointment with a child mental health specialist as a priority. Healthcare professionals should advise you to remove all medications, and where possible other methods of self-harm (such as cutting) available to your child.

Questions for family members and carers to ask

  • Can you give me some information about self-harm, and the treatments for it?

  • Am I entitled to be told about the treatment my family member/friend is having?

  • What can I do to support the person who self-harms?

  • Can you give me any information about specialist support for families and carers, such as helplines?

  • Who can I contact for help during a crisis?

  • Can I have a carer's assessment?

  • Information Standard