Self-harm play to return to Oxfordshire schools in 2018

An award-nominated play aimed at challenging the taboos about self-harm is returning for a third tour of Oxfordshire schools in March 2018.

Under my Skin, commissioned by Oxfordshire County Council and produced by Pegasus Theatre, has been raising awareness about the issue among the county’s teenagers and promoting the services available to young people affected over the past two years.

The play, scripted by playwright Ali Taylor and directed by Corinne Micallef (Artistic Joint CEO of Pegasus), will be shown to Year 8 and 9 pupils and continues the public health initiative to tackle self-harm and related stigma – which in 2015/16 accounted for more than 552 hospital admissions of people aged 10-24 in Oxfordshire.

Positive impact in 2016/17

The play was performed in 30 schools in 2017 and since starting in 2016 has a running total of reaching more than 10,000 young people in Years 8 and 9 across Oxfordshire.

  • 96% of pupils reported the play increased their knowledge of self-harm and 71 % were very confident in knowing how and where to seek advice/support about self-harming after having seen the play
  • Of 100 professionals who provided feedback 57% felt their understanding of self-harm increased following the play and 73% felt more confident in supporting a young person who approaches them with concerns about self-harm

Open discussion

Along with complementary lessons being delivered by the School Health Nurse and School Staff, ‘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 production has been developed with the guidance of expert advisors including teachers, School Health Nurses, Oxfordshire County Council Public Health, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and Children’s social care.

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

Empowering young people

Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health Hilary Hibbert-Biles said: “Self-harm can be difficult to talk about and we wanted to continue using ‘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.”