“Self-harm” is the term used when a person intentionally injures or hurts themselves as a way to cope with emotional distress.
People who self-harm have difficulty talking to others about their emotions, and instead inflict harm upon themselves as a way to cope. Each year around 26,000 Australians are admitted to hospital due to self-harm injuries. Some of the most common ways people harm themselves include cutting, burning, picking at skin or punching. Children and teenagers can be at risk and self harming.
Indirect self-harm occurs when a person inflicts injury on themselves less directly – such as failing to receive treatment for a known illness or alcoholism.
Why do People Self-Harm?
Some of the most common reasons an individual may turn to self-harm include:
- To manage their emotions (e.g. Anger)
- Low self-esteem
- To cope with feelings of anxiety or depression
- Poor body image
- Post traumatic stress disorder
- Emotional numbness
- As a way to cope with abuse
- A belief that they deserve punishment
The treatment for self harm may include:
- Psychiatric treatment
- Harm minimization techniques and first aid skills in early treatment stages
- Learning more effective coping strategies
- Support of professionals, family and friends
- Medical treatment for injuries
If you – or someone close to you – is self-harming, it is important to get help as soon as possible. By talking to a mental health professional such as a psychologist, the self-harming individual will be able to start a treatment plan that is tailored specifically to their needs.
Angela Bromfield is a registered psychologist, who primarily works with children and teenagers. She has a keen interest in helping people who self-harm, no matter what their age.
Angela Bromfield is currently on leave and may return end of 2019. Please call our office for other options on 1800 877 924.