Last reviewed on 28 June 2021
If you’re self-harming or if you’re worried about a friend, there is help available. We know how important it is that you find the right support for you – you might find it helpful to confide in a family member, speak to your GP or contact a young person’s helpline, for example.
Self-harm is often a coping mechanism because you feel very anxious or stressed about something that’s going on in your life. Here on Good Thinking, you’ll find NHS-approved apps, articles, podcasts and videos to help reduce stress and boost your general mental wellbeing. We also provide links to support organisations and would encourage you to get in touch with them.
If you’re feeling vulnerable at the moment, you might prefer to read this article when you’re feeling calmer or stronger. If you need urgent mental health support, please contact your local 24/7 NHS mental health helpline (you can find the details here). If you, or someone else, is in crisis or needs urgent medical attention, call 999.
Self-harm is when you intentionally injure or hurt yourself. It might involve cutting your arms or legs, burning yourself, pulling out your hair or inserting objects into your body. In some cases, self-harm can involve taking an overdose without intending to end your life.
Some young people harm themselves as a way of coping with a difficult situation, such as bullying, exam pressure, money worries or the COVID-19 pandemic.
Self-harm can happen for a number of reasons, which can change over time, including:
Many young people who are self-harming find it difficult to ask for help. You might feel embarrassed or worried that you’ll be judged or treated differently. Please remember that your family and friends will want to be there for you and that you can also get professional support. Here are a few steps you could take:
Although every situation is different, you might have noticed changes in your friend’s behaviour and physical symptoms – perhaps they are withdrawn or angry or they have unexplained cuts and bruises.
First of all, stay calm and don’t bombard them with questions. This is a sensitive situation and they might feel embarrassed or ashamed.
Let your friend know they can talk to you when they’re ready and that you can help them to get support (e.g. from a confidential helpline or their GP).
You might find the free Combined Minds app useful as it helps friends and relatives to support young people with their mental wellbeing.
Good Thinking provides resources to promote self-care for anxiety, stress, sleep problems, low mood and other aspects of your mental wellbeing. You might find the following resources useful – try a few of our recommended apps and top tips to see what works for you:
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