Self-harm help for young people

I’m having thoughts about self-harming, what do I do?

Firstly, please know that you are not alone. Self-harm is more common than you think, so lots of people will understand. We would advise that you reach out and speak to someone you trust; ideally an adult. They should then be able to point you in the right direction for any further support that you might want or need. The fact that you are having these thoughts but not acting on them is really positive. What are you already doing to stop those thoughts turning into actions? That’s already a skill you have that you can use. Maybe try some other, less risky, things to distract yourself, or help express how you are feeling. If you ever feel you can’t keep yourself safe, please call 999 or get someone to take you to A&E.

I want to stop self-harming, what do I do?

It’s great that you have recognised the behaviour you are engaging in, and feel ready to make a change. There are different forms of support available, depending on your particular circumstances. We would recommend speaking to someone you trust about finding the right source of support for you. Once this has been identified, the right person or agency can guide you through the best way to move forward. Usually, you’ll do some work identifying what the motivation behind the self-harm is, in order to work out the most appropriate coping skills and strategies to put in place instead. It’s very possible to reduce self-harm, or stop all together.

I want to tell someone about my self-harm but I’m worried they’ll judge me. What do I say?

We can understand why you might be worried. Sometimes people accidentally say the wrong thing when they don’t understand something, or if they feel a strong emotion (such as being worried about you). We would recommend that you make a plan; what you want to say, when you want to say it and where you want to have the conversation. It might be better to pick a moment where that person has time to listen, rather than throw it into conversation when they’re in the middle of something else.

It might also be useful to have some information handy that they can read – such as a parents/carers’ guide to coping with self-harm. Most importantly, know that even if the conversation doesn’t go quite as you expected, people do care about you and will want to help (even if those people are us, at Young Addaction, or someone on the end of a helpline). Someone is always willing to listen, without judging.

My friend is self-harming, what do I do?

Thank you for caring about your friend. They are lucky to have you. We would advise that you try to stay calm when they are disclosing this information to you (which can be really difficult), try not to judge them and let them know that you are there for them.

If you can, it’s really important for you to try and find out if a responsible adult knows about their self-harm. If there aren’t any adults that know, you might have to do a little risk assessment for yourself. Are you worried about their safety? If so, the best thing to do is to tell someone, even if you feel like a bad friend. At the end of the day, their safety has to come first, and perhaps they aren’t in the right frame of mind to be able to see that. A really useful website that explains this process a little more is called Epic Friends

Chloe Still is an Advanced Practitioner for Mind and Body. You can follow her on Twitter: @mabsmermaid

Mind and Body is an innovative programme for young people who self harm, or are deemed vulnerable to self harming behaviours. Find out more here

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