Self-harm is not an illness, it’s a behaviour, an expression (usually done in private) of pain, confusion, anger, hurt, frustration, despair…
It can be self-injury – such as cutting, burning, jumping from heights – or self-poisoning – overdosing eating/drinking poison. The wider spectrum includes things that many people do – smoking, alcohol and drugs, overeating, restricting food intake, over-exercising, sleeping around, taking risks, generally doing stuff that’s ‘bad for you’ but makes you feel better in other ways…at least in the moment or for a while.. In that sense you could say some sort of self-harm is a common part of human behaviour in response to the challenges of life.
“I am human and nothing human can be alien to me” Maya Angelou
Self-harm is often a coping strategy but it is different for each person and there may be different reasons for each act of self-harm.
About half of young people who self-harm will never do it again but for some it can become a damaging habit that can be hard to break even when you really want to. In that case you might wish to access help in order to find other ways to express your feelings or manage and deal with difficult situations and emotions.
More information and help
You can visit the site www.selfharm.co.uk which was created in 2008 by Youthscape, a charity that aims to improve the lives of young people, in response to a need they identified through their work. The site has facts, links, articles, video stories, opportunities to ask questions and even an online course that gives you an opportunity to think more about self-harm and work out what your next step might be. Useful information about all aspects of mental health can be found at www.youngminds.org.uk
If you are 11-17 you can ask to have counselling at MAP via the Point 1 Service www.ormiston.org/point1 tel: 0800 977 4077.
If you are 16+ other local organisations and services that can help are listed here. Some are completely free, others provide low cost counselling.
If you are Professional looking for guidance on working with Young people who self-harm please click here for further details and a downloadable Resource Pack.
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