In the lead up to Self-Injury Awareness Day (1st March 2018) we met up with staff and service users at our mental health services to answer some of the big myth and questions on this issue.
Myth 1: Isn’t it just attention seeking?
This is one of the biggest myths about self-harming. There are many reasons people self-harm; there are actually a lot of cases of people trying to hide it.
For some it can be a way for them to take control of the situation. Sometimes it can be for reasons from their past, perhaps their childhood memories coming back. There can be a variety of reasons.
It’s only when you have experienced seeing someone who has been through self-harming that you realise the pain they are in. It’s not someone just wanting to make a fuss.
Myth 2: But they’ve done this to themselves?
There can be an ignorance in that people think that people bring it on themselves. People don’t want to self-harm, it is an addiction.
‘Expert by experience’ talks from people who have self-harmed are really valuable to help health professionals and the Police to understand the issues. Attitudes are starting to get better.
Is there anyone that can help?
Nowadays there are lots of different organisations out there. The Samaritans are very good and Mind also offer good advice.
For those in services like Hightown's, there is personalised support. For example, One of our service users would self-harm before he went to bed. We would put the number for Samaritans next to his bed in case he felt the urge and there is also a buzzer he could use to alert staff who are on shift at night. He sometimes needs reassurance but he hasn’t self-harmed for a long time.
What should I do if I’m worried about someone?
The best thing is to listen to people and try to understand them, calm them down and offer advice.
What should I do if I’m feeling like this?
Ask for help. If you don’t, then things will get worse.
Try and take deep breaths and try and focus on something positive. Personally, I find music very helpful. I have a relaxation music tape that I listen to when I am struggling.
Thank you to Julie, Gary, Alan, Joanne and Marie for sharing their experiences and advice with us.