Unseen Wounds: Addressing Self-Harm Among Teens

Unseen Wounds: Addressing Self-Harm Among Teens

March is Self-Harm Awareness Month, a time dedicated to understanding and addressing the often misunderstood issue of self-harm. This phenomenon occurs predominantly among pre-teens and teens. Self-harm, also known as self-injury, is the act of deliberately harming one’s own body as a way to cope with emotional pain, anger, or frustration. 

While it can be a shocking and distressing behavior for parents and caregivers to discover, understanding the reasons behind it and the prevalence of self-harm in adolescence is crucial for effective intervention and support.

The Prevalence of Teen Self-Injury

Self-harm is more common among teenagers than many might think, and research reveals some alarming teen self-harm statistics. Up to 25% of all teens engage in self-harm. It’s a behavior that crosses all demographics and is seen in every social, economic, and ethnic group. 

Factors That Can Lead Teens to Self-Injure

Many teenagers who engage in self-harm are struggling with feelings of sadness, loneliness, or confusion. They might be dealing with bullying, social or academic stress, or issues at home. Self-injury can be a way to express pain, take control of something in their lives, or momentarily escape emotional distress. Some teens also say they harm themselves to feel something physical when they are otherwise feeling emotionally numb.

Common Forms of Self-Injury

Common forms of self-injury include cutting, burning, piercing, or hitting oneself, and these actions are often done in secret. It’s important to note that self-harm is typically not a suicide attempt but rather an unhealthy way to cope with emotional pain. However, it can lead to more serious injuries and even accidental death, and it is often associated with other mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and trauma-related disorders.

Recognizing the signs of self-harm is vital for parents, educators, and peers. Unexplained wounds, wearing long sleeves or pants in hot weather, and isolation are potential indicators. 

Treating Self-Injury

Treatment for self-harm often involves therapy to learn healthier coping mechanisms and to address any underlying mental health conditions. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) are common approaches that have shown effectiveness. Medication might also be prescribed if there are co-occurring issues like depression or anxiety.

Awareness and education are powerful tools in combating the stigma and isolation often associated with self-harm. Encouraging open conversations about emotions and mental health, promoting healthy coping skills, and providing a supportive and understanding environment are key steps in helping teens avoid and recover from self-injury. If you’re a parent or teen with insights on self-harm from your own journey with it, you can help countless others by sharing your own tips and strategies online as well as reviews of mental health facilities and providers. 

Protect Teens From Self-Harm With ReGroup Foundation

ReGroup Foundation is a non-profit that helps pre-teens, teens, and their families anonymously share and benefit from mental health success stories. Too often, the best resources and practices in teen mental health care remain under the radar. We want all families to benefit from the triumphs of those who have “been there, done that” where self-harm and other issues are concerned. We make this possible by collecting family reviews of local mental health caregivers and facilities as well as personal strategies for helping teens recover from wellness challenges.

In only 15 minutes, you can begin making a world of difference in the lives of other teens and their families — just by anonymously sharing your successes. Register today and start sharing your reviews and mental health insights!

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