SELF-HARM

What is Self-Harm?

The phrase ‘self-harm’ is used to describe a wide range of behaviours. Self-harm is often understood to be a physical response to an emotional pain of some kind, and can be very addictive. Some of the things people do are quite well known, such as cutting, burning or pinching, but there are many, many ways people can hurt themselves, including abusing drugs and alcohol or having an eating disorder. Sometimes, it’s more important to focus on how someone is feeling rather than what they do to themselves. Quite often, people find that more helpful.
For more information on Self Harm visit the Young Minds website.

Signs someone could be Self-Harming?

Remember that there is no stereotypical person who self-harms. The majority of children & young people go to great lengths to hide the evidence of their self-harm, the following may be signs to be aware of:
• Always keeping skin covered up, wearing long sleeves in summer
• Not wanting to go swimming, or avoiding PE and other games activities
• Cuts, scars, burns or unusual marks on skin
• Drinking or drug use
• Recent weight loss, or weight gain

In addition, you may notice
• Changes in personality
• Lack of interest in life
• Wanting to be alone
• Expressing feelings of self-blame, failure, uselessness, hopelessness or anger

Recommended self-care and management tips?

There are a number of ways to manage self-harm, the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), is a self-designed prevention and wellness process that anyone can use to get well, stay well and make their life the way they want it to be.
WRAP could help you:
•Discover your own simple, safe Wellness Tools
•Develop a list of things to do every day to stay as well as possible
•Identify upsetting events, early warning signs and signs that things have gotten much worse and, using Wellness Tools, develop action plans for responding at these times
•Guide you through the process of developing a Crisis Plan or Advance Directive
•Introduce you to Post Crisis Planning
For more information on how to make an action plan visit the website.

The Stem4 – CALM HARM app provides tasks that help you resist or manage the urge to self-harm. You can add your own tasks too and it’s completely private and password protected.
The app contains four categories of tasks which target the main reasons people self-harm. Distract helps to combat the urge by learning self-control; Comfort helps to care rather than harm; Express gets those feelings out in a different way and Release provides safe alternatives to self-injury.
Available on iPhone, iPad and Android. Visit the Stem 4 website for more information.

Remember, self-harm is usually a response to a traumatic event, or a way to cope with how you are feeling. It is important to address the underlying issues, as well as manage the act of self-harm, see the ‘Where can you go for help’ section below for information on who can help.

Worried about a someone?

If you are worried a child or young person may be self-harming consider talking to them about it. Try not to let self-harm become the focus of your discussion but the reasons behind the act. Here are some tips for taking about self-harm:
• Let them know that their emotions are real and important
• Remind them of their strengths and abilities
• Reassure them that you do not think they are a failure whatever their difficulties
• Explain to them that you want to help but may not know the best thing to do and that you may have to seek support from others
• Try to come up with a solution together
• Watch for signs of bullying or abuse that may be triggering self-harm
• Support them to implement their WRAP (Wellness & Recovery Action Plan) if they have one ( please hyperlink the yellow bit http://mentalhealthrecovery.com/wrap-is/ )
• Remind them that people care
• Provide them with a safe space to talk and share their fears & concerns
• Be honest about having to share information with an appropriate adult
• Avoid judgmental comments or telling the person to stop self-harming

Services available?

If you are worried about a child or young person, there are loads of places you can get support and advice. You should speak to their parent or carer in the first instance, if it is appropriate to do so. If this is not an option you could talk to their school nurse or GP. In some circumstances the GP may refer the child or young person to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service). You can find out more about CAMHS by clicking here.

You could signpost the parent or carer to the Young Minds parent helpline on 0808 802 5544 you will also find a list of organisations that can help on the Young Minds website.

Other ways to help

It is important not to only focus on the self-harm itself but the reasons behind it in the first place – only once these issues are addressed will it be easier to address the self-harming behaviour and implement relevant strategies.

What to do in an emergency

If you are concerned about a self-harm wound or other serious self-harm act you should seek emergency medical help through your local Accident and Emergency service.

Overdoses:
• Get the person to an emergency department as soon as possible
• Try to find out what they have taken and tell emergency medical staff
• If they won’t tell you, look around for empty pill bottles or blister packs

Cuts and Wounds:
• Apply pressure to bleeding cuts using a bandage or towel (a tea towel may be less
likely to stick to the wound)
• If the wound is superficial clean the wound under running tap water and apply a sterile adhesive dressing
• If the wound has become infected (e.g., swelling, pus forming or spreading
redness), seek medical help

Burns:
• Cool with cold water for 10 minutes or longer if possible, then cover with cling film
• Don’t use ice or any creams or greasy substances such as butter

For more information on handling wounds and burns, and information about when to see a doctor, see www.nhs.uk or ring NHS Direct on 111.