Young people need help to break the cycle and stop self-harming

A while back I talked about how lots of young people suffer with a lack of confidence in their body image in the run up to summer.

Monday, 19th August 2019, 5:00 pm

But while this may be because of weight, body shape or bad skin, we get a significant number of contacts from young people who worry about wearing summer clothes when they have visible scarring or cuts.

One young person said: “Summer is coming and people keep asking why I’m still wearing long sleeves all the time. I don’t know what to do.

“I’ve tried to help the skin heal by using oils and moisturisers where the cuts are worst, but they’re taking so long to go away and I feel paranoid that someone is going to see them.”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

There can be all sorts of reasons behind self-harming, and often the thought of others seeing the visible traces of self-harming – cuts, scars and bruises – can add a lot of anxiety when a young person is already struggling to cope with strains on their mental health.

This added stress and feelings of self-consciousness can have a further negative impact on the child or young person’s mental health and can, in some cases, lead to further self-harm.

When this happens, it is important that young people are given the coping techniques they need to help break the cycle and stop self-harming.

This can mean listening to music or reading a book as a distraction, writing down or drawing something to express how they feel, taking up exercising or getting outdoors for a while.

Talking about how they feel is always helpful, even if it may feel really difficult in the first instance. While it may feel that people won’t understand, it can be helpful to talk to someone and share feelings in order to help work through them.

If this isn’t possible to do with friends and family, our Childline counsellors are there to talk about anything and everything young people are worried about – over the phone or online, any time of day.

We also have a friendly community on our website message boards, where children and young people can find support from their peers, and a Wall of Expression game that helps young people let go of difficult feelings.

For free confidential advice and support about any worries, children and young people can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or