01/03/2018 09:04 GMT | Updated 01/03/2018 09:21 GMT

More Than A Third Of Teenagers And Young Adults Have Self-Harmed: Advice For Parents

'We know from parents how overwhelming it can be.'

A third of teens and young adults have self-harmed at some point in their lives, a new poll suggests.

A survey of 1,000 16- to 25-year-olds from across the UK, released by Self-Harm UKThe Mix and YoungMinds, found that 36% had self-harmed.

Sarah Brennan, chief executive of YoungMinds, said: “While this poll does not explain in what ways young people harmed themselves or whether they did it once or regularly, it is clear that this is a huge problem in our society that needs to be addressed.

“We know from calls to our Parents Helpline how overwhelming it can be if you find out that a child or young person is self-harming.

“But by offering the right support, friends and family can make a huge difference.”

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What can parents do if their child is self-harming?

“The hardest thing for parents or guardians to accept is that they cannot physically stop their child from self-injuring,” Wedge, the founder of self-injury guidance support network LifeSIGNS, previously told HuffPost UK

“It’s definitely a breakthrough if the parent and child can talk about self-injury and the emotional distress behind it. But parents shouldn’t expect the self-injury to go away anytime soon. Emotional recovery takes time, and people (of all ages) that rely on self-injury as a coping mechanism need support to learn new ways of coping.

“Being listened to by your parents is incredibly validating and very helpful, so parents should learn the skill of listening without judging and without attempting to fix everything every time. Children of all ages want to be heard.” 

LifeSIGNs advises that issuing a demand or ultimatum for someone to stop hurting themselves “can only serve to drive your loved one further away from you”, as you demonstrate that you don’t understand and that you’re not listening.

“A person who self injures may well feel isolated and alone; ultimatums only increase the feelings of isolation,” he added.

Young Minds previously collated the following five tips for parents, from a young person who self-harms:

* Try not to judge: “My parents didn’t like it but they didn’t think it made me a bad person.”

* Be honest: “My parents told me they didn’t get it - nor did I. Their honesty and questions helped me to open up about it.”

* Accept recovery is a process: “I can’t stop. Not right now. If you ask me to, I’ll feel like I’m letting you down. It’s going to take time.”

* Listen: “My dad said very little. He just listened. It was exactly what I needed.”

* Talk about other things too: “I’m more than my self-harm. It doesn’t have to be the focus of every conversation.”

Further support:

LifeSIGNS is a support network managed and led by people with personal experience of self-injury.

Staying Safe is an interactive online resource for anyone struggling to offer hope, compassion and practical ideas and suggestions on how to find a way forward.

Childline: Free national helpline for young people, confidential advice on all sorts of problems: 0800 1111.

The Mix: Offers help by telephone and email for people under 25 who self-harm: 0808 808 4994. a project dedicated to supporting young people who are affected by self-harm.

The Rethink Mental Illness advice service can be reached on 0300 5000 927 (lines open Monday to Friday 10am-2pm and calls charged at local rate). For information and advice if you are worried about someone who is self-harming, download their factsheet.

YoungMinds Parents Helpline: 0808 802 5544 is available Monday to Friday 9.30am to 4pm.

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