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How to support someone who self-harms
by TeenHelp May 1st 2023, 01:05 PM

How to support someone who self-harms
By Charlie (Horsefeathers.)

We all want whatís best for our loved ones, and it can be difficult when you find out that someone you care about is engaging in self-harm. You may feel scared or confused, and it can be daunting to know where to start when it comes to providing support for them. Take a look at the points below for some ideas on how best to help.
  • Listen non-judgementally. The person youíre aiming to help is likely experiencing a lot of intense emotions, and may not be willing Ė or even able Ė to fully explain what theyíre going through. They may feel embarrassed or ashamed by their self-harming, so itís important to make it clear that youíre listening with the intent to help them, not to judge them.
  • Encourage them to find appropriate sources of support. In many cases self-harm is a symptom of a larger issue, such as an underlying mental health condition or stressful life situation. These can often be treated or managed if the person receives sufficient support, for example through seeing a mental health professional or joining a support group. If possible, you can help your loved one find and access these supports to aid them in their recovery.
  • Help them find coping mechanisms. There are many ways to deal with self-harm, ranging from distractions for when urges arise to dealing with the emotions or situations causing the self-injurious behaviour. If you donít have much prior knowledge or firsthand experience with self-harm, you could try looking up alternatives online or in relevant books. You can also try helping your loved one come up with their own coping strategies, or even referring them to the list of alternatives on TeenHelp!
  • Know your limits. Itís easy to get so caught up in helping a friend, partner, or family member that you neglect your own self-care, but that can end up doing more harm than good. Remember that your loved oneís recovery ultimately falls to them, and you may come to a point where they need more support than you can provide. If it comes to it, donít be afraid to assert your boundaries, put your own mental health first, and, if necessary, refer the situation to someone else (such as a teacher or counsellor if youíre really worried about your loved one).
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