Self-harm is a way that some people express feelings of distress and emotional pain by intentionally hurting themselves. The lack of understanding about self-harm can lead to insensitivity about the topic as most people could never imagine hurting themselves on purpose. Self-harm is a coping mechanism associated with severe mental health conditions such as “borderline personality disorder, depression, eating disorders, and PTSD.”1
The Online Help Guide gives examples of the most common types of self-harm:
- Cutting or severely scratching your skin
- Burning or scalding yourself
- Hitting yourself or banging your head
- Punching things or throwing your body against walls and hard objects
- Sticking objects into your skin
- Intentionally preventing wounds from healing
- Swallowing poisonous substances or inappropriate objects
Anyone can self-harm, but these behaviors are most common in “teenagers and young adults because they are experiencing multiple changes at the same time, creating a lot of new stress and pressures.”1
According to Mental Health America, the first step in treating someone who self-harms is getting an evaluation or assessment and moving forward with a course of treatment from there. The treatment for self-harm is “most often a combination of medication, cognitive/behavioral therapy, and interpersonal therapy.”2
The lack of understanding and judgment that comes along with self-harm can make it difficult to reach out for help but it is important to do so. Self-harm is a coping mechanism that can become addictive but a treatment plan can be managed.
Nexus offers two different outpatient clinics. One in Austin, MN with Gerard Academy, their staff of therapists is available for appointments. The PATH Stress and Trauma Clinic is located in Fargo, ND and is also accepting new patients. If neither of these clinics is in your area, please visit https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists to find help near you. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). They also have an online chat: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. The Self-Harm Prevention Line is 1-800-334-4357.