You may decide that there are people in your life who you want to talk with about your self-injury, as keeping it secret can leave you feeling very isolated. It may feel frightening to imagine telling another person but it does also give them a chance to offer you their support and understanding. 

Have a look at the resources below for advice and guidance on how to seek support, how you might approach discussing your self-injury with others, and what to do if you would like to speak to a counsellor. 


Getting support for yourself


Telling someone that I self-harm 


Having counselling


Things that might be helpful to think about:

Showing that you accept yourself:

The most important thing you can do to help deal with other people’s reactions is to start to accept yourself. Self-injury is much more common than people realise and there are always valid reasons for it. It will help someone else to understand if you have some idea of why you self-injure.

Go to our ‘Why do I self-harm?’ page for further help and advice.

Why am I telling them?

If you know the reason you want to tell the person about self-injury it may be a helpful way to start the conversation, e.g. ‘I would like to talk to you about something that’s going on for me because I don’t like having secrets from you’ or ‘I would like to tell you something that feels quite difficult for me because I am hoping you will be able to help me’. 

Choosing your time

One of the things that is likely to affect the reaction of the person who you tell is the time that you choose to do so. Sometimes when we feel anxious it can feel easy to blurt something out and then disappear. If possible choose a moment when there is time to have a proper conversation.

Confidentiality 

If you are telling someone professional like a teacher, school nurse or counsellor, you may want to check beforehand what they will do with the information that you share. It might feel awkward to ask but it’s important that you protect yourself and check that what you say won’t be automatically passed on to other staff or back to your family if you feel uncomfortable with this. You can simply ask, ‘what is the rule about information that I tell you?’

What if they start to pressure me to do things differently or get really upset or shout at me?

If at any point you start to feel pressured by the other person to say more than you want to or to handle things differently you can take charge of the conversation by saying something like ‘I don’t want to talk about that now’ or ‘please don’t shout at me, it is not helpful’. Don’t feel that you have to answer other people’s questions or to justify yourself, and it’s your decision about whether you want to show people your injuries or scars.

There are services that can support parents or friends of people who self-injure with their feelings.

It might be helpful to direct them to our support services, if they feel they would like to talk to somebody anonymously via phone, text, email or webchat. 

You could also suggest that they visit our ‘Supporting someone who self-injures’ page for advice about helpful responses to self-injury.