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Able Training Challenging Behaviour in Adult Care

The Myths Surrounding Self Harm

The phrases ‘self harm’ or ‘self injury’ are used to describe a wide range of behaviours. There are many misunderstandings related to these behaviours and the reasons why they occur.

Self-harm is often understood to be a physical response to an emotional pain of some kind, and can be very addictive. Some of the things people do are quite well known, such as cutting, burning or pinching, but there are many ways to hurt yourself, including abusing drugs and alcohol or having an eating disorder.

Many people have preconceived ideas about what self harm is, who commits suicide and why people do it. It as area steeped in myths, such as:

“Self-harming is attention-seeking”

“People who self-harm are suicidal”

“It’s only a teenage thing – you will grow out of it”

“People who self-harm could stop if they wanted to”

“People who have self-harmed have been abused”

“Self-harm is when you cut yourself”

“People self-harm to fit in or be cool”

Anyone who understands self-harm or has self-harmed themselves knows that not a single one of those myths are true and that the persistent belief in them inhibit many self-harmers from getting the support and help that they need.

One of our staff reported hearing of someone (who should have been better informed) who was challenging a young boy who had self harmed “Did you that to yourself? Did you scratch yourself like that? Are you the guilty party? Admit it, admit you did it!”

Lets just look at why that is a cruel and completely inappropriate thing to do.

That form of communication would only add to the emotional suffering and further trigger self harming behaviour.

Education and knowledge are so vital to support and help people suffering emotional difficulties. Our courses on addictions, self harm, ligature awareness, mental health, depression and anxiety all help raise understanding and improve strategies for improved support.

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