Self-harm ‘is attention needing, NOT attention-seeking’. It might be difficult to talk about, but it’s a common problem and is on the rise, with alarming statistics in the press and not enough understanding or education amongst health professionals. We spoke to our Mental Wealth Ambassador Natalie – a specialist, trained therapist who regularly supports young people to overcome self-harm.
Natalie herself self-harmed as a teen and still has the scars on her arm - a reminder of resilience and her journey into good mental health. Self-harm is something you CAN beat. Here’s what self-harm means and what to do if you think you’re affected by it:
What is Self-harm?
The myth is that self-harm is just cutting or burning, but it can also be with food, sex and drugs. Self-harm is when you hurt yourself on purpose. You usually do it because something else feels wrong, and it seems like the only way to let those feelings out.
It is a very common behaviour in young people and affects around one in 12 people, with 10% of 15-16-year olds self-harming. If someone self-harms it is usually as a result of another problem. It can happen if you are feeling anxious, depressed, stressed or bullied and feel you don’t have any other way of dealing with these issues.
Often self-harming brings only temporary relief. It can be upsetting when you think that self-harm is the only way you can cope, but there are other healthy ways to do so.
Sometimes it feels like no-one understands why you self-harm but lots more people today know and understand what the condition really means.
What Should You do About Self-harm?
Take the first step.
If you think you are affected by self-harm, talk to someone; a parent or relative you trust, perhaps a teacher or a youth worker. If you don’t think you can confide in anyone, talk to your GP or a friend and do some research yourself.
Why talk to your GP or seek a private specialist therapist?
Self-harm can be a sign of other disorders that you need help with, such as depression or anxiety and they will be able to refer you to the right people for treatment.
It all stems from deep emotional pain, stress and sometimes trauma, so please know there is NO SHAME or STIGMA - with specialist help you can overcome this harming for good by learning new ways to deal more positively with emotional pain.