What Parents And Teachers Can Do Self-Harming
Reports indicate that there has been an increase in suicide attempts and self-harm among young people during the pandemic. According to New South Wales, the number of people presenting to emergency rooms for suicidal and self-harming thoughts and self-harm has increased by 47% since the outbreak.
Up to the end of July 2021, there had been 8,489 self-harm presentations to NSW emergency rooms by people up to 17 years old. This is an increase of 6,489 submissions in the year ended July 20 2020. A December 2020 study found that children as young and old as primary school were intentionally harming themselves.
Not enough services like emergency departments and crisis help lines are available to meet the increasing demand for mental health support. There are many things that you can do as a teacher or parent when your student or child has self-harmed.
What Is Self-Harming?
Self-harm is also known as non-suicidal self injury or self-injury. It refers to people who intentionally inflict physical harm on their bodies. Self-harm can include cutting, burning, self-hitting, scratching, and any other behaviour that causes injury, pain, or wounds to the body. Intentionally harming oneself is done to alleviate stress, anxiety, sadness, or to punish self-loathing.
Self-harm can be something that a young person does repeatedly, whether it is once, twice, or multiple times. People who self-harm repeatedly often have mental health issues or experienced significant stress in the past.
Self-harm is often an emotional response to stress and uncertainty. It’s no surprise that rates have risen during the pandemic. Self-harm can help you cope with stress and regain control of your emotions. The relief of emotional pain and self-harm can be achieved through physical pain or self-harm.
What Can You Do To Help Self-Harming?
There are things you can do if you have a child who is attempting to harm themselves. It is important that parents and teachers don’t react with anger, shock, horror, anger, or judgment when their student or child has self-harmed. Many young people feel ashamed after intentionally harming themselves. This leads them to conceal their wounds with jewellery and clothing.
Some people may avoid activities that might expose their wounds such as swimming and other sports. As a parent, or teacher, the second thing you can do is to remove any objects that could be used for self-harm. This should not done to shame or punish the child, but to get rid of any easy access to items that could inflict injury. You can also remind your child that you are not taking these objects away to punish them, but to help.
We instruct young people to delay the urge to self harm and the act of self harm when treating them. This can also achieve by removing self-harming tools. To prevent further injury, it is a good idea to offer activities to distract teens from self-harm such as exercise and cooking.
Some suggest substitution activities to self-harm, such as holding ice on your wrist or snapping a rubber band around your wrist. These are controversial because they are similar behaviours and come from the same self destructive mindset.
How Do Treat The Wounds Of A Child
It is vital that parents, school nurses or first aid-trained staff are able to examine and treat any injuries suffered by children. During this interaction, parents and school staff must be able to show unconditional positive regard to their child and students. You can use comments such as Can you tell us a little about it? Have this ever happened before? Where was this done? and How many times have you done this?
Parents and school staff should also ask. How do your wounds usually heal? These interactions should aim to understand how young people care about their wounds, and teach them about wound care. The next steps of action can be decide by the parents and school staff. These can be discuss with the child to alleviate any concerns about seeking additional help from mental or medical health services. This may involve booking an appointment with their GP or psychologist.
A mental health professional can help the young person address the root causes of self-harm. They will also be able to offer different ways for the young person to cope. They can also determine if the young person has suicidal thoughts. Recently published school policies outline other options for teachers to follow when a student self-harms. Schools should have a policy on self-harm to help teachers. It will outline the steps to take if a student self-harms.
The school policy regarding self-harm must include information on how to support students and parents, how best to talk to parents, how students can avoid self-harm from others, and how teachers can support students who self-harm.