Self Harm Awareness

Today is Self-Harm Awareness Day, 1st March 2024. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to write for GROW’s blog about this topic that impacts my life both personally and professionally. 

I have ended up working in a service that provides direct support to people who are experiencing self-harm, due to not only my genuine interest in supporting people’s mental health, but also due to my personal experiences of self-harm. It is something most of us deal with at some point in our lives – whether it’s smoking/vaping, staying in a toxic relationship, always putting everyone else before you and neglecting your needs, restrictive eating/purging, or cutting. 

Self-harm is a coping mechanism and if you want to support yourself through it, or someone else, it’s important to understand the function of the self-harm. Whether it’s a form of communication; to others or themselves, it’s a release, it’s to regulate emotions, a form of self-punishment, dealing with boredom, or any other reason. If you, or the person, is ready to find alternatives to self-harm then having the understanding of what need the self-harm is meeting is important. It’s also vital to understand what triggers this behaviour. You can use a diary or log to find patterns and triggers if you are unsure. Sometimes it’s not always clear what the trigger is, and other times it’s more obvious.

In the meantime, it’s important to consider harm reduction strategies. This means that the person that is self-harming is aware of ways to do this safely, when to get help and other alternatives. It’s not necessarily a case of stopping this behaviour. It does provide a function and it may have been helping you, or the person, to cope and manage difficult emotions and circumstances. However, when you are ready to, implementing alternatives that meet the same function can be a useful starting point. 

You may want to create a wellbeing or soothe box for yourself, or with the person. A wellbeing box is individual to you and can be filled with your favourite things, reminders of people you can call for support, other reminders of activities and distractions that work for you, and you may have your self-harming tools (if applicable) in the bottom of this box.

Remember, we are all individual and trying to figure out how to navigate life for the first time, it is going to be challenging at times. However, you are deserving of caring for yourself as best you can. If you feel ready to contact others for support with self-harm, you can try talking with someone you trust. There is also great support available through selfharmnetworkscotland.org.uk.

Thanks for reading!

Frankee – Marketing & Communications Coordinator

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