Holly (not her real name) is a Year 9 student at Cantonian High School, who has been engaged in the SOHK programme since September 2017. Her parents are separated and she lives with her mother in Cardiff, visitings her Dad most weekends. Her relationship with her mother is often strained and they argue a lot. Holly has a small group of friends at school and trusts few people. She frequently isolates herself and does not attend social events with her friends.

Holly was referred to SOHK when her school reported her to be disruptive, rude and she would tend to fabricate the course of events to avoid punishment / blame. Soon afterwards, she disclosed self-harm in a one-to-one. When stafff explained to Holly that if she is at risk of harm to herself or others, her situation needs to be reported, she reacted negatively and felt extremely scared as to how people would react. She thought that her family would not love her anymore. 

With Holly’s consent, Jess (SOHK Psychologist) phoned her Dad and told him about her self-harming. He reassured both of us that whatever support was needed, he would follow through with. The school were also made aware.

Since this low point, Holly has engaged in the rugby element of SOHK positively. She is active in the drills, engaging with both coaches and her peers. Her barriers seem to drop and she says she enjoys playing, being outside and feels free of inhibitions. During one to one sessions, Holly has explored her dark thoughts, feeling safe to voice them with support around her. She has started to journal some of her experiences so she does not feel stuck with the thoughts in her head. She has shared her experiences before, during and after she self-harms, helping to build an awareness around the process, identifying triggers.

We continue to work with Holly but, so far, we have seen the frequency of self-harming incidents reduce. She talks about being more confident, especially in her decisions when it comes to who she spends her social time with. Holly appears to be less influenced by negative peer pressure and does not feel forced to be with people that do not help her feel better about herself. Teachers report that she is easier to reason with, although she can still argue and this can escalate rapidly. Holly has mentioned that her relationship with her Mum has improved and she can talk to her more openly about what she needs.

We continue to work with Holly each week and we have also connected her with the Amber Project in Cardiff, which helps young people who self harm.