Improving young people’s mental health

8th November 2022

After the bereavement of a friend while studying at sixth form, one young woman started to get feelings of wanting to give up but local charity, SAFA “saved her life.”

Self-Harm Awareness for All (SAFA) is a charity based in Barrow and Kendal that supports people who experience mental health issues related to self-harm.

Lois from Walney, attended the charity’s one to one counselling sessions for children and young people after having suicidal thoughts.
She said: “I am still here because of the support I received from SAFA. It turned everything around. From wanting to drop out of sixth form with suicidal thoughts to getting into university to study filmmaking.”

Thanks to the support of SAFA, Lois successfully finished her A-levels and went on to study at Manchester University. Lois is a talented painter, photographer and film maker with lived experience, which she is now using to help thousands of other people by working with the charity as a media creator.

I’ve since started freelancing with film companies from working locally to big feature films with multi-million-pound budgets, opening my eyes to all the fruitful opportunities that life holds. Through SAFA, I really found myself, and I started to feel like life was worth living again.

Public perception of self-harm is closely associated with people who cut themselves, but self-harm is any behaviour that is detrimental to one’s wellbeing such as excessive alcohol intake, drug use, gambling addiction, social media addiction, eating disorders, excessive working, excessive exercising and other high-risk behaviours.

SAFA supports around 160 people each year and has seen a rise of almost 80% in the number of children needing specialist treatment for severe mental health issues. The charity received £18,000 to provide additional counselling sessions to young people.

Locally, demand on the charity has never been higher, with the 11 to 19 age group accounting for 70% of the total clients supported. There is currently a waiting list of people who need support.