Archive for July, 2013

What Is The Best Way To Support Someone Who Self Harms?

Monday, July 29th, 2013

There is a myth that those who self harm are seeking attention; on the contrary, people who self harm are known to keep their actions private. Common reasons such as shame or fear prevent the individual from asking for help; this is why an important factor into supporting people who self harm is knowing how to support them. Approaching the issue may seem daunting, but by breaking it down into individual steps we can learn how to provide self harm help to assist an individual towards recovery.

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Ultimately, it is important to know what self harm is. Research is crucial if you want to spot the signs and take correct action. Conduct research into the issue or speak to an expert whether it be your own GP or a helpline. By understanding the problem you are one step closer to assisting the young person to solve it.

This then leads to supporting yourself and dealing with the emotions that you might experience when faced with information on this subject. Discovering someone you care about, such as your child or friend, is self harming will no doubt come as a shock. This is why being honest about your own feelings is important to becoming stronger for the person you are trying to help. By no means will it be easy, but by slowly overcoming your shock you can learn to instil strength and hope into the person who self harms.

Discovering why an individual chooses to self harm is a crucial step towards recovery, and it is therefore important to remain supportive rather than judgmental. Issues such as bullying, abuse or stress are just some of the reasons someone can resort to this habit. Self harm is sometimes the only outlet an individual chooses to deal with life’s obstacles. Yet criticising or blaming the individual will only reverse the recovery process and cause them to retreat further into their shell. Again research and knowledge and raising your self harm awareness into the causes of self harm will provide an opportunity to better understand the issues which surround it and demonstrate to the person that you are there to help them.

This leads to the final point, simply being there for someone. Self harm is not something people readily talk about, even with the gravity of its implications. Regardless of why someone takes part in this act, it is still destructive and must be treated. By encouraging and empowering the individual, you can guide and support them into understanding other practical, harmless and healthier ways to relieve their emotional pain and distress.


Self Harm In Schools

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Photo: ALAMY –

When you mention the term self harm today the public normally associates it with young people, particularly school children or teenagers. Whilst self harm is prevalent amongst young people, it also might appear that it is prolific in the education system! It is important therefore, to paint an accurate picture of self harm in schools. We have the general perception, now let’s explore the issue.

School can be the pivotal part of an adolescent’s life. This is where they discover their identity, socialise with those of their own age, experience physical and emotional changes but more importantly, tackle the more challenging and sometimes harmful side of being an adolescent. Factors which can trigger self harm include bullying, exam stress or pressure from peers to fit in. Recent studies have shown that 1 in 12 young people have self harmed in their lives, with it becoming one of the top five concerns flagged by 13 year olds, where previously it was a primary issue for older teenagers. It is worrying that individuals who self harm are increasingly becoming younger where they should really be experiencing the formative years of their lives without harming themselves. School in itself can be mixture of good and bad memories, we all have various experiences of our school years and ultimately various ways of dealing with the bad experiences. This is where support for people who self harm comes in.

The most important thing for a pupil to do is to come forward and tell an adult of their distress, which is easier said than done! One of the positive things about many schools today are the support systems put into place, whether it be counselling, mentors, medical teams and primarily teachers. By opening up about their feelings and asking for help we can put into motion a cycle of treatment and prevention for adolescents. But it is a two way process, the educational system needs to have these mechanisms and systems in place in order to give students the confidence to step forward and receive help. By educating themselves on the facts and gaining self harm awareness, educators can learn how to properly understand and assist pupils in dealing with their negative feelings in more practical ways. A recent story emerged from Unsted Park School in Godalming Surrey, in which a student who self harms was given a safety razor blade to cut themselves whilst being supervised by a teacher. This kind of act and behaviour might seem shocking to many people, however, it would appear that the school was acting on assisting the young person to manage the self harming behaviour by ‘not removing the person’s self harming tools’. What matters more is how the school then assisted the pupil in finding healthier options to manage their self harming behaviour.

School admissions: half a million pupils find out about secondary school places

Self-harm pupil given razor at Unsted Park School

How Resilient Are Children Really?

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

When a crisis or traumatic situation occurs we often hear people say something like “he/she will be fine. Children are very resilient. They will pull through it.”

Yes children and young people will “pull through” it but at what cost? At what cost to themselves? At what cost to society?

Let’s consider for a moment an adult experiencing a similar or the same traumatic experience, e.g. bereavement or marriage break up. How would the adult react to the situation?

They may have experiences such as:

  • Numbness
  • Being or feeling dumbfounded
  • Feeling isolated
  • Become angry
  • Become aggressive
  • Sullen
  • Lash out at others
  • Become excessively busy in an attempt to block the memories of the trauma/crisis
  • Talk excessively
  • Blame themselves for what happened
  • Blame others for what happened
  • Take on self destructive behaviours to cope with the situation (e.g. drugs, alcohol, self harm, abusing others etc)
  • Being Fearful
  • Begin to experience panic attacks
  • Become tearful
  • Take time off work
  • Ask for compassionate leave
  • Get depressed

Children are Humans too!

This list is only a minor sample of some possible ways that ADULTS react and
cope with a crisis or traumatic situation. Given that children and young people are Humans too, aren’t they? Why then do so many adults think that children will be ok by simply leaving them to get over it by themselves? That their resilience will make it all ok?

Children and young people experience the same emotions that adults do when faced with trauma, except in some cases their emotions are camouflaged by “childish” behaviour because ……….they are children!

This does not mean that the underlying emotions that have driven them to behave in these “childish” ways have disappeared. This is their way of dealing with the trauma; they simply act out.