Self Harm

Discovering your child is self-harming can be shocking and very stressful. Parents often feel confused, angry, scared or rejected, but there are websites, books, helplines and Apps to help you and your child or teenager. The first step is talking about it and understanding the emotions that lead people to harm themselves.
Usually young people who self-harm use it as a coping strategy to help with emotional distress. It can briefly help to make them feel they are in control or ease painful feelings, but they often feel worse again afterwards. Sometimes young people self-harm to punish themselves because they feel bad about themselves in some way. Understanding why your son or daughter self-harms and getting their trust will really help. A lot of the ways of coping are to do with learning better ways to manage anxiety. There are some helpful techniques that people can use instead of self-harming to release their distress - many of these are incorporated into the Apps listed at the bottom of this page.

For parents





  • Pooky Knightsmith “Can I Tell You About Self-Harm?  A Guide for Friends, Family and Professionals” 
    Available Here
    A brief easily readable book written from the perspective of someone who has self harmed and  describes what self-harm is, why teens do it, and how to get help if your child feels the need to self-harm. It describes what has been and hasn’t been helpful.  It also contains other resources for you and your son or daughter. 

  • Jane Smith “The Parents Guide to Self-Harm: what parents need to know”.
    Available Here.
    This is a really clear book on all aspects of self-harm written by a former teacher and parent who has helped her own children through self harm.  It contains useful advice and guidance in a reassuring manner. It is written specifically for parents and carers. 

For young people

  • No Harm Done- Things Can Change : Information and support for young people on self harm co-written by young people themselves. Find it here
  • CASS Women’s Self Injury Helpline: Aims to offer emotional support to girls and women of any age affected by self harm, as well as their friends, families and carers.
    The helpline is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 19:00-21:30.  Tel: 0808 800 8088
    They run a service called TESS – Text and E-mail Support Service, for girls and women up to 24 years old. You can text or e-mail (using the form on their website) and they aim to text back within half an hour, and respond to e-mails within 24 hours, during their opening hours, open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 7pm-9.30pm although it can take a little longer when they are busy. They also provide free workbooks and information booklets for people with learning disabilities who self-injure. Website: 

  • Mind website - games and puzzles for distraction


  • Calm Harm – free and provides tasks that you can do when you have the urge to self harm.  You can add your own tasks too.
    Although this is an App to help people reduce the urge to self-harm, I think some of the tips in it are helpful for emotional regulation generally.  Users of the app can complete a log/journal of these experiences or they can just select activities (under ‘ride the wave’) that can be useful depending on how they are feeling.  These include self-soothing, distraction, writing/expressing distress, etc.  It also has further tips in the section called ‘get help’ (Therapist)

  • Distract Very good for signposting to other services, and has some self-harm educational information as well as links to Art, Books and Films. “I would typically use this when people want a list of useful contacts in an emergency or when distressed and they often forget who to call, as it is all in one place” ( Therapist)
  • Self Heal when opening this you get three options: what to do now, what to do in the longer term or contact The Samaritans.  It also has a toolbox of resources and allows users to collect pictures, quotes and distraction tasks that they believe will be of most benefit to them.

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