Self Harm Awareness Month

March is Self- Harm Awareness Month. Also known as self-injury, self-harm is a symptom of extreme emotional distress and refers to hurting oneself on purpose, oftentimes  as a means to find temporary relief from negative emotions.  In our blog series this month, we will be sharing a variety of resources to raise awareness around self-injury, offer support for those who self-harm, and help individuals learn to identify self- injury in others.

What constitutes self-harming behaviors?

Self harm often serves as a coping mechanism for emotional distress. A data analysis conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that up to 30% of teenage girls and 10% of teenage boys say they have intentionally injured themselves. An additional study found that as many as 25% of young people engage in self-harm, with this number being even greater among LGBTQ+  teens (63%). 

Self harming behaviors could include cutting, hair pulling, burning, and skin-picking. Cutting, the most common behavior,  has risen at an increasingly alarming rate since 2001. In an article published by JAMA Network, self-injury increased by 166% in girls aged 10 to 14 and 62% in girls aged 15 to 19 between 2001 and 2015. 

What is the cause of self-harm?

When people do not have the coping skills they need to deal with negative emotions, they may turn to self injury as a way to turn their emotional pain into physical pain. Oftentimes, self-harm is the result of an underlying mental health condition such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, or borderline personality disorder. While self- harm may bring a temporary feeling of calm or relief, painful and overwhelming emotions return quickly. Some individuals may only self harm a few times and then stop, but for those who continue self-injuring over an extended period of time, it can quickly become a compulsive behavior. 

How can I identify the signs of self harm? 

Identifying self-harm in others can be difficult, as those who engage in those behaviors often cover up their injuries. Some of the signs to look for include the following:

  • Unexplained injuries that appear self-inflicted
  • Isolation or social withdrawal
  • Low self esteem and feelings of hopelessness
  • Declining performance at work or school performance is suffering
  • Wearing clothes that cover their skin fully, even in warm weather. 
  • Having sharp objects such as razors, glass bottles, knives, needles, or shards of glass in their possession. 

How we can help 

If you or a loved one is self-harming, New Perspective Counseling therapists are committed to providing caring, professional and effective services to promote mental wellness. We specialize in the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety and Depression;  and our therapists  work in areas of interest to them such as addiction, adolescent treatment, children, and men’s mental health. 

Treatment for self-harm aims to address the cause of the behavior, working with the individual to uncover underlying issues that impact their capacity to detail with difficult and overwhelming emotions. Our therapists may offer a variety of modalities for supporting those who self harm including Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Trauma Informed Therapy.

Learn more about our team of therapists and their services here: