SELF HARM IN CHILDREN AND TEENAGERS
Young people and self harm
Self Help Coping Strategies
Keep a diary to express yourself and explore some of
the thoughts and feelings that you have. Having a
place where you can practise putting your experiences
into words can be really helpful. It can also be useful to
monitor any patterns in your thoughts and feelings, and
the relationship between these and when you feel like
self harming. Developing an understanding of these
patterns will help you to take control in future.
Talk To Someone
Being able to speak to someone about your feelings
can help in a number of ways: expressing yourself
may reduce the strong feelings and it may also
enable you to get some care and support. You
might feel able to talk to a friend or family member,
or speaking anonymously to a helpline may feel a
better option. Try and make a start by thinking of
someone that you might feel safe to talk to, or who
may be able to help you.
Try the 10 MINUTE RULE
This can be a really useful technique. If you feel like
self harming, and the urge is getting stronger, try to
postpone self harming for ten minutes (or a different
length of time if this feels too long). Telling yourself
NOT to do it may make the urge stronger, but
‘postponing’ harming may feel manageable. If after
10 minutes you still feel like self harming you can still
turn to this, or again you can postpone it for a further
10 minutes. Continue this as long as is necessary.
For many people self harm happens when emotions
are at their most intense, in waiting for 10 minutes, this
intensity can start to fade and the urge may go away
or lessen. During the 10 minutes, make yourself busy
– try some of the following distraction techniques.
Long term help and support
There are many places that can help you overcome
your difficulties longer term, it might be that talking
to someone for support over a period of time might
be more helpful.
Your GP may be able to offer support for your self
harm, and make referrals to other services. If you
have a good relationship with your GP then this might
be a good place to start.
Mental Health Team
A mental health team may assign you a social worker
or psychiatric nurse to help you with your difficulties.
Referrals are usually taken from your GP.
There may be a counselling service in your local area.
Counsellors will help you to work on your difficulties,
and provide you a safe space to talk about things
and learn new coping strategies.
There may also be a counsellor attached to your GP
surgery – give them a call to find out, or look in the
yellow pages or on the net for services in your area.
There are different forms of psychotherapy, and
psychotherapists that will be able to help you. Usually
you have to speak to your GP first, but they may be
able to offer you help over a longer period of time.
Therapists will help by working in a similar way to
a counsellor, and help you to look at why you self
harm, and move towards alternative ways of coping
with your feelings.
PO Box 9235, Nottingham NG8 9FB
If you are feeling:
• hit a pillow
• put on loud music and sing/shout
• do physical activity to get rid of some of the energy
(such as running, stamping around)
• write down why you are feeling that way and tear it up
• use lavender oil (in a bath or on your pillow)
• stamp your feet on the ground, feel the difference
between hard and soft ground beneath your feet
• Have a hot bath
• Concentrate on your surroundings – describe
what you can see and hear around you. Use essential
oils (smells) and sounds to focus you
• Touch things hot and cold, smooth and rough
• Talk to someone - call a friend or a helpline
• Make yourself feel comfortable (use pillows and
blankets to comfort you physically)
• Make yourself a hot drink or your favourite food
• Look at photographs of people you love
• Go to a favourite place (attached to a positive or
Out of Control/Panicked
• Concentrate on a simple task
• Write an action plan of things you’d like to achieve and
the steps you can take to achieve this
• Gardening and cleaning
• Take a walk from where you are to a specific place;
take your time and concentrate on your footsteps, and
try to slow your breathin