Coping with self-harm: A Guide for Parents and Carers

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This guide was developed from talking to parents and carers of young people and is aimed at helping parents, carers, other family members and friends cope when a young person is self-harming. It includes information on the nature and causes of self-harm, how to support a young person when facing this problem and what help is available.

Supporting your child

  • Have a conversation, but don’t bring up self-harm straight away You could organise this around another activity, like a walk or drive Ask if anything is worrying them and how they are feeling
  • Let them know you are not judging them or putting them down, and that you love them and that will not change
  • Show that you are prepared to listen to what your child has to say
  • If your child does not want to talk, see if they will write you a note, email or text message about how they feel
  • Ask if they would rather speak to someone else (e.g., a GP, counsellor or helpline)
  • If your child is able to be open about their self-harm, try to help them work out feelings and situations that may trigger it
  • Try to think together of ways to handle strong feelings that don’t involve self-harm (see “Alternatives to Suggest” on page 7 for ideas)
  • Help them think through their problems and see possible solutions
  • Encourage them to think about the long view and how things may change in the future

This excellent and helpful resource from the Charlie Waller Trust can be downloaded here for free

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