A courageous student in Cornwall has faced her fears in front of her peers by leading self-harm awareness workshops, providing advice and guidance on the once taboo subject.
Caroline, a mature animal management student, who wishes not disclose her last name, started her course last September, and since then has seen her confidence grow.
At 16 years old, Caroline said she started to self-harm as a way of trying to cope with her emotions.
“I felt alone, scared and unable to express the torture I was feeling inside. My self-harming soon became an addiction and took control of me,” she added.
Whilst looking after the animals at Duchy College Rosewarne, Caroline noticed that she was feeling much more relaxed.
“It gives me a focus and a reason to get out and a good distraction,” she explained.
With her own personal form of therapy proving successful she started to feel empowered and decided to rekindle her passion for raising awareness of self-harm.
Recent NHS figures have shown that the number of children and young people self-harming has risen dramatically over the past 10 years.
With mental health receiving more and more column inches in the press, individuals, including celebrities like Fearne Cotton and Demi Lovato are still trying to break down the stigma surrounding the various conditions.
After gaining confidence through looking after the animals and her support from PorthEden, a crisis café and Valued Lives, another local crisis centre, Caroline was able to face her fears.
“Summer is coming and the hotter days were something I was dreading as I felt ashamed of the scars on my arm,” she said.
“I wished I could be brave and not care what people thought, so I did something about it with the help of Kate Snook at Duchy.”
Kate, Duchy College’s student liaison officer, said Caroline’s internal strength “really blew me away”.
“She is so genuine in her desire to support others and say it’s ok to talk about self-harm, in fact it’s vital. We decided together to run a day of workshops for students and staff.”
Caroline delivered her sessions to more than 100 people and really made an impact on the close-knit campus, Kate said.
“Her workshops have changed the dynamics here at Rosewarne, people are listening more, accepting more, caring even more,” she added.
Since running the workshops Caroline has set up a self-harm prevention peer support group at Valued Lives and explained that she has found confidence that she never knew she had.
“I pushed myself out of my comfort zone only to realise that actually I had found my new comfort zone!”
Picture caption: The sugar gliders, are some of the animals in the animal management department that have helped Caroline through difficult times.