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.
Helplines and services available
YoungMinds Crisis Messenger
- Provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK if you are experiencing a mental health crisis
- If you need urgent help text YM to 85258
- 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.
- If you're in distress and need support, you can ring Samaritans for free at any time of the day or night.
- Freephone (UK and Republic of Ireland): 116 123 (24 hours)
- Email: [email protected]
- If you're under 19 you can confidentially call, email, or chat online about any problem big or small
Freephone 24h helpline: 0800 1111
- Sign up for a childline account on the website to be able to message a counsellor anytime without using your email address
- Chat 1:1 with an online advisor
- If you're under 25 you can talk to The Mix for free on the phone, by email or on their webchat. You can also use their phone counselling service, or get more information on support services you might need.
- Freephone: 0808 808 4994 (13:00-23:00 daily)