Information for the public
What can I expect during an assessment?
During the assessment, which may take place over several meetings, healthcare professionals will want to get to know you and find out more about your self-harming behaviour and any other difficulties so they can work out which treatment and what kind of support would best suit you. They will need to ask about your mental and physical health, and they may also ask you about your relationships, living arrangements and background, and also about your skills and strengths and ways of coping with your problems.
As part of your assessment, healthcare professionals should also talk to you about whether you think you may self-harm again and whether you have had any thoughts of suicide, and identify with you the risks that may lead to you self-harming again. They may talk to you about the methods you use or have used to self-harm, and how often, and whether you have symptoms of depression or another mental health problem and if this is linked to your self-harming behaviour. You will be given a chance to talk about any specific events or feelings that came before an episode of self-harm, your relationships, and also any ways of coping that you have used to stop or reduce your self-harming. Healthcare professionals may also ask you about any other harmful behaviour, such as drug and alcohol misuse or taking unnecessary risks, having access to medication that may harm you, or other means of self-harm.
If you are 65 or older, assessment should be with a healthcare professional who has experience of assessing people in your age group. They should pay particular attention to your physical health and whether you have depression. They should also ask you about your life at home and whether you have family and friends living close by.
Your care team should ask you whether you would like your family or carers involved in your care.
If you are interested in accessing organisations and websites that offer information and support for people who self-harm, your care team should be able to discuss and provide advice about these.
Your relationship with your healthcare professional
It may be difficult for you to discuss your self-harming behaviour. Your doctor or healthcare team should be aware of any sensitive issues relating to self-harm and should build a relationship with you that is supportive and based on trust. Your healthcare professional should work with you to help you to make your own decisions about your treatment options and goals. You should be encouraged and supported to find solutions to your problems, because this will help to build your confidence.
Your care team should respect your confidentiality.
Questions you could ask your healthcare team
Why am I being offered an assessment?
Will my self-harm remain confidential?
Who can provide my treatment and care?
Are there any support organisations specifically for people who self-harm in my local area?
Who can I contact in a crisis?
Have you got any information for my family or carers?