Self harm stats prompt mental health scheme to consider expansion

PUBLISHED: 14:54 15 January 2015 | UPDATED: 14:56 15 January 2015

Sarah Higgins,Debbie Humberstone and Kerry Cable of The Project. Ref mha 0741-02-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

Sarah Higgins,Debbie Humberstone and Kerry Cable of The Project. Ref mha 0741-02-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife


Figures from mental health needs assessment show ‘statistically significant high rates [of self-harm related hospital admissions] in Honiton’

Concerns over higher rates of self-harm among young people in Honiton have prompted the founder of a trail-blazing mental health scheme to investigate expanding it into the town.

Debbie Humberstone founded The Project support group in September 2013, and said that high self-harm rates in Honiton provide a strong case for the organisation’s expansion.

Latest figures released in a mental health needs assessment carried out by Devon County Council (DCC) show there are ‘statistically significant high rates [of self-harm related hospital admissions] in Honiton’.

The report said: “Self-harm amongst younger people is one of the most direct forms of impairment to health or development... It can often be linked to other mental health conditions or can be a reaction to or seen as a way of coping with distressing events.”

It went on to say: “Although self-harming is a behaviour that often develops in early adolescence, it often continues into adulthood, as, unless the underlying problems are dealt with, the pattern is established.”

Mrs Humberstone said she has received calls from lots of people for The Project to expand to the town and cater to the needs of young adults.

She said that self-harm can be a response to other issues, where young adults are feeling low or depressed.

Mrs Humberstone added: “Our approach to self-harm is early intervention and prevention.

“A lot of organisations are very keen for us to open a group in Honiton.

“However, we are aware that there is a long way to go before it happens.

“It took a very long time to open the group in Axminster.

“We have a mountain to climb.

“We would need to find an appropriate venue and recruit volunteers to start with.”

The Project was formed after Mrs Humberstone was inspired by the help her daughter, Jess, received to overcome severe depression.

She raised £40,000 to bring The Project to Axminster, which now runs two well-attended support groups.

Jess has since been put on the road to recovery after receiving specialist inpatient treatment and went on to regain her confidence and self-worth.

The Project helps young people aged 13 to 24 across East Devon, West Dorset and South Somerset – as well as their parents and carers - by providing mutual support and new friendships, and fresh ways of handling emotional difficulties.

But another problem Mrs Humberstone faces before launching the group in Honiton is the financial constraints surrounding the expansion.

Being a self-funded group, The Project would need to generate in the region of £25,000 to start operating in Honiton,

Mrs Humberstone said she remains optimistic it can happen, and is welcoming support to help propel the expansion.

“Our groups in Axminster are almost full,” she added. “We are keen to open a local group in Honiton which is accessible to young people who may not have the means of travel to make it to our Axminster sessions.”

For more information about The Project, call 01404 549045 or email

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