Award-nominated self-harm play returns to Oxfordshire schools

Award-nominated play ‘Under my Skin’ is returning for another tour of Oxfordshire schools in March 2017.

The play, commissioned by Oxfordshire County Council and produced by Pegasus Theatre, aims to help increase awareness of self-harm among teenagers and raise awareness of the resources and services available.

Scripted by playwright Ali Taylor and directed by Jonathan Lloyd, the play will be shown to year 8 and 9 pupils and continues the public health initiative aiming to challenge taboos about self-harm.

Encouraging discussion

Self-harm is thought to affect over 1 in 10 teenagers in the UK, with over 500 hospital admissions in Oxfordshire in 2014/2015 due to self-harm in people aged 10-24. Along with complementary lessons being delivered by the School Health Nurse, ‘Under my Skin’ was designed to encourage pupils to be more open about discussing the topic with their peers and teachers, and inform them about how to access the right support.

The script draws on testimonies gathered by a team of young researchers who interviewed adolescents with first-hand experience of self-harm and mental health problems. The final production has been developed with the guidance of expert advisors including teachers, School Health Nurses, the council's Public Health advisors, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and social services.

Public health award

Following its first run the play was nominated for a Royal Society for Public Health Award, and was a finalist in the Public Mental Health and Wellbeing category in October 2016.

The council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health Hilary Hibbert-Biles said: “Self-harm can be difficult to talk about and we wanted to use ‘Under my Skin’ to help empower young people to discuss the issue openly and honestly, ensuring they know how and where to access support if they need it.”

Each school performance is preceded with an information pack for pupils, including an introduction to the play, the issues involved, and signposts to relevant support organisations. The play ends with a discussion with the cast members and the opportunity to speak confidentially to members of the school health nursing team.

‘Under my Skin’ will tour over 28 schools across the county from 6 March.