“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.
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:
- Psychatric 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.
Author: Angela Bromfield, B Sc (Hons Psych), B Ed (Primary), M Ed Psych.
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 is currently on extended leave.
To make an appointment try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3088 5422.