In the news this week we have heard how Instagram are proposing to remove all graphic images of self harm following the suicide of Molly Russell in 2017. Molly’s parents saw posts of her Instagram account after her death and concluded that the social media giant was partially to blame.

All this is a world away from young people working with horses, you would think? Well think again.

According to Self Harm UK (TM) there could be as many as 13% of 11-16 year olds involved in harming themselves. It is very difficult to gather accurate data as most young people will not disclose what is going on, so the actual figures could be much higher.

As an organisation working with young people, examples of self harm are just one of many of the increasing conditions we have witnessed over the last 15 years. High levels of anxiety and stress, depression and low self esteem have all been linked to the act of self harm.

During our work with learners we try to focus on how they are feeling rather than why they are harming themselves. Horses are experts in helping us build a learner’s self esteem and confidence; the natural therapeutic environment that is created by simply being around a horse can make all of us feel better about ourselves and thus reduce our levels of stress and anxiety.

We are not a substitute or a replacement for the specialist organisations out there who actively offer support to those who are self harming and their families. However, improving our mental health and well being can only help to make us more resilient and more confident in the choices that we make.

For specialist support or if you are concerned about someone self harming then contact:

www.nhs.uk/conditions/self-harm/

youngminds.org.uk/find-help/feelings-and-symptoms/self-harm/

www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/self-harm/

www.selfharm.co.uk/