Self-harm is difficult to talk about but it’s a common problem and you can beat it. Find out what self-harm means and what to do if you think you’re affected by it.

What is self-harm?

Self-harm is when you hurt yourself on purpose. You usually do it because something else feels wrong. It seems like the only way to let those feelings out.

It is a very common behaviour in young people and affects around one in 12 people, with 10% of 15-16 year olds self-harming.

If you self-harm, it is usually as a result of another problem. It can happen if you are feeling anxious, depressed, stressed or bullied and feel you don’t have any other way of dealing with these issues.

Often self-harming brings only temporary relief. It can be upsetting when you think that self-harm is the only way you can cope, but there are other healthy ways you can cope.

Sometimes it feels like no one understands why you self-harm, but lots more people today know about what the condition really means.

What to do about self-harm?

Take the first step.
If you think you are affected by self-harm, talk to someone - a parent or relative you trust, perhaps a teacher or youth worker. If you don’t think you can confide in anyone, talk to your GP.

Why talk to your GP?
Self-harm can be a sign of other disorders that you need help with - such as depression or anxiety - and they can refer you to the right people for treatment. You may also be referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) so you can have an assessment for the right treatment for you.

Treating Injuries
You may well need treatment quickly for injuries from self-harming. Any injuries you have should be treated straight away and not left because you harmed yourself.

Your GP may be able to treat the injuries themself or may refer you to hospital where you will be treated by a doctor or nurse trained to work with children and young people who self-harm.

Stories about self-harm recovery

Charlotte’s blog: My story of self-harm recovery

I was only 14 when I started to self-harm. I was never intending to hurt myself. I was doing it for the sense of relief it provided. I felt like the only way I could function and leave my room was if I had that release.

One day my father walked in on me when I was self-harming. I thought, “This is it, I am in so much trouble and I’ll be grounded.” On another level I felt so worried about upsetting my father, he meant so much to me. To my surprise he just sat next to me, calmed me down and told me to be safe. He then got me scar oil in case I wanted it – which was so thoughtful.

I am now 22 and haven’t self-harmed for over a year. So, how did I recover from self-harm?

  • I talk to people - because I know that there is no shame in my feelings or my past.
  • I never overwhelm myself and take one day at a time - knowing your limits is important.

Looking back, for a long time I had suffered alone and didn't realise I could ask for help. So my message to you would be: don’t let fear prevent you from getting the support you deserve.

To continue reading Charlotte’s blog visit ‘My story of self-harm recovery.’

For more advice on how you can get help for self-harm, have a look at our blogs:

YoungMinds Crisis Messenger

Provides free, 24/7 text support for young people across the UK experiencing a mental health crisis.

All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors.

Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.

Texts can be anonymous, but if the volunteer believes you are at immediate risk of harm, they may share your details with people who can provide support.

Text: YM to 85258

Opening times: 24/7


Whatever you're going through, you can contact the Samaritans for support.

Phone: 116 123

Email: [email protected]

Opening times: 24/7


If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.

Sign up for a free Childline locker (real name or email address not needed) to use their free 1-2-1 counsellor chat and email support service.

Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.

Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.

Phone: 0800 1111

Opening times: 9am - midnight, 365 days a year

The Mix

Offers support to anyone under 25 about anything that’s troubling them.

Email support available via their online contact form.

Free 1-2-1 webchat service available.

Free short-term counselling service available.

Phone: 0808 808 4994

Opening times: 4pm - 11pm, seven days a week

Calm Harm

A free app providing support and strategies to help you resist or manage the urge to self-harm.

Can be downloaded from Google Play or App Store.


A free app for teenagers (11+) providing resources and a fully-moderated community where you can share your problems, get support and help other people too.

Can be downloaded from Google Play or App Store.

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