Self Harm. This word can be very daunting and scary when you hear it – especially from those who are close to you! Being scared, nervous or overwhelmed when hearing this term can be a natural reaction and that is okay.
Difficult topics like self-harming can be hard to talk about resulting in a lot of people either not talk about it at all or have an extreme reaction which can lead to conflict or defensiveness.
Not many can say they have had a conversation about this topic before – so how would you talk about this topic? How do I approach this topic?
So here are few things to keep in mind and ways to approach the topic of self-harming.
Ensure you are in a comfortable and suitable environment.
It is important that the individual who is expressing this information of self-harming is comfortable to talk. The environment is important to ensure they open up and are not scared.
Listen to the individual
Talking about self-harming can be overwhelming or anyone. It is important to give the person sae to talk about how they feel freely. In many cases a lot of individuals just want someone to listen to them. Try your best not to jump to solutions or express your opinions in a judgemental way. You can ask questions but do not ask too many questions.
Avoid telling the person ‘They better STOP’!
Asking them to stop can be an unhelpful way to get them to stop. Instead, explore things that can help them to manage their difficult thoughts and emotions. Encourage them to connect to services that can offer support and build and support network they can use when feeling overwhelmed.
Reassure them help is available.
Reassurance is key! There are multiple ways we can connect with services that can provide help. Many services have helplines, apps and online portals the individual can use. Many services are flexible in providing help and ensuring the individual is comfortable to reach out – this can be by offering face-to-face sessions or online access.
Seek professional help if needed.
It can be difficult to know what to say to an individual and sometimes being there and listening can really help. But it is important to understand and respect our own imitations and encourage individuals to seek professional help if needed.
Take care of yourself.
Being there for an individual who is going through a difficult and overwhelming time can take a toll on you too! Make sure you take some time to care for yourself when you have heard sensitive information like self-harming. If possible, reach out to other like professional but also family or friend who can support you and the individual.