Contrary to popular belief, individuals who engage in self-harm or self-injurious behavior are neither suicidal nor attention-seeking. Self-harm is not a mental health disorder but a symptom of psychological distress. Numerous circumstances motivate someone to engage in self-harm or self-injurious behaviors ranging from feeling overwhelmed by thoughts and emotions that cannot be identified or expressed verbally to feeling numb or devoid of emotions.
Harmony Hills is a mental health treatment center committed to helping individuals and families overcome the symptoms of mental illness and co-occurring disorders, including self-harm, to enable people to live their best lives. We understand that many people turn to self-harm as a coping strategy for emotional release and know it can lead to severe complications when left untreated. Contact our team at 855.494.0357 to learn about the benefits of our self-harm treatment program.
Understanding Self-Harm/Self-Injurious Behaviors
Self-harm involves any activity or behavior that intentionally causes harm or injury to oneself. While these behaviors have historically been regarded as “attention-seeking,” through more research into mental health disorders, they are now more accurately viewed as a “cry for help” to address deeper underlying issues. Essentially, those who self-harm lack the coping skills to manage their thoughts and feelings in healthy ways.
Self-harm typically begins in early adolescence and often continues into early adulthood, especially when left untreated. Self-harm/self-injurious behavior is closely associated with mental health disorders, including:
- Borderline personality disorder
- Eating disorders
- Substance use disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Most individuals who self-harm have experienced trauma that has influenced their overall well-being, including neglect, abuse (physical, emotional, and sexual), and bullying. It is essential for friends and family of individuals who self-harm to become educated about it so they can recognize it, understand it, and know how to provide support.
Typically, individuals who self-harm begin to do so slowly but quickly become trapped in a cycle they cannot escape without professional intervention. The initial act usually provides an intense sense of relief. However, it is followed by powerful feelings of guilt and remorse that ultimately create the urge to self-harm again, perpetuating a pattern of dysfunction.
Are There Benefits to Support Groups for People Who Self-Harm?
Group therapy is widely recognized as an effective treatment modality for numerous mental health disorders. In today’s technology-centered world, one can find an online support group for anything. However, when turning to the internet for help, it is critical to ensure that you engage with a reliable source. Unfortunately, there are all too many online sources that not only provide inaccurate information but can provide dangerous information.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the following organizations can provide reliable information about help for self-harm/self-injurious behavior:
- S.A.F.E Alternatives
- Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery
While these websites provide information, the best choice for a support group for people who self-harm is through a mental health treatment center like Harmony Hills. A support group for self-harm can provide identifiable benefits, such as:
- Peer support
- Tips for resilience
- Distraction techniques
- Grounding techniques
- Insight through peer reflection
- Education about the short-term and long-term effects of particular self-harm/self-injurious behaviors
- Harm reduction techniques
Self-harm support groups that trained professionals do not monitor can be more detrimental than good because they can:
- Provide inaccurate information
- Leave people feeling vulnerable or exposed after sharing details about themselves
- Cause people to ruminate on what they have shared, reinforcing negative thoughts and emotions
- Provide ideas about new methods or tools for self-harm
- Promote a negative groupthink mentality that reinforces self-harm
When professionals lead self-harm peer support groups in a therapeutic setting, they can reduce the stigma and sense of loneliness that comes with self-harm/self-injurious behaviors.
Learn More About Self-Harm Peer Support Groups at Harmony Hills
Self-harm is a complex issue, and treatment takes time and hard work. Self-harm is not a mental health diagnosis but a symptom of an underlying problem that requires professional intervention.
At Harmony Hills, we understand that engaging in or having a loved one who engages in self-harm is confusing, upsetting, and scary. Our comprehensive mental health treatment programs address the root causes of self-harm/self-injurious behaviors. Because we know behavioral and mental health issues do not occur in a vacuum, our programs are designed to support your entire family. Reach out to us online or call 855.494.0357 to learn more.