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Self-Harm and Attempted Suicide Response

Self-care for school staff following an incident of self-harm or suicide attempt

Supporting students who are experiencing significant emotional distress and may be engaging in self-harm can be stressful and can leave you feeling emotionally fatigued. It is important that school staff seek their own support from colleagues, school leaders and/or professional services.

Enacting your own self-care strategies and support network is also critical during this time.


As an employee of the department you and your immediate family members (18 years and older) can access professional, counselling and mental wellbeing support through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Confidential counselling is delivered virtually, by phone or face-to-face at a time that is convenient for you. To organise support call 1300 361 008 – 24 hours a day 7 days a week. This service is fully funded by the department.

Alternatively, speak with your GP to arrange a Medicare-rebated Mental Health Care Plan.

Self-care strategies to maintain and restore wellbeing following exposure to a self-harm incident or suicide attempt

  • Look out for signs of traumatic stress (including burnout and vicarious trauma)
  • Make time for rest as this is critical for your resilience
  • Contact friends and increase time with those whose company you enjoy
  • Schedule pleasant events and maintain a schedule and routine
  • Reduce the intake of stimulants (for example, coffee, alcohol, energy drinks) to keep arousal levels within a manageable range
  • Eat well-balanced regular meals to help you maintain physical and emotional wellbeing, energy and balance – there is increasing evidence linking a good diet to mental health
  • Add some physical exercise into your daily routine
  • Use your support networks at home and at school (including reaching out to personal and professional mentors)
  • Use relaxation activities (e.g. meditation or mindfulness)
  • Talk through your experiences with someone you trust and use available support mechanisms to avoid being overwhelmed

Source: Managing Trauma: A guide to responding to a critical incident (PDF)External Link (staff login required)

Supporting resources

Be YouExternal Link has a range of wellbeing tools and resourcesExternal Link for educators to support their mental health and wellbeing needs.

5 Ways to wellbeingExternal Link , an initiative of the Royal Melbourne Hospital, has a range of tips and suggestions that promote positive mental health and wellbeing.

Further supports and information can be found at: Employee Health, Safety and Wellbeing ServicesExternal Link .

Health and wellbeing services for principals (including assistant and acting) are available. For more information, refer to: Principal Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

Guidance chapter containing self-care information for school staff following an incident of self-harm or suicide attempt

Reviewed 06 March 2024

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