Self-harm is a general term that can be applied to a variety of behaviors through which a person intentionally inflicts pain, damage, or other harm onto his or her own body. Among the more prevalent types of self-harm are cutting, scratching, and/or pinching one’s skin; burning oneself; pulling out one’s hair; punching oneself; hitting one’s head on a wall or other hard object; and drinking caustic, poisonous, or otherwise dangerous liquids. The damage that results from self-harm can range from temporary minor irritation to serious long-term damage. Individuals who engage in self-harm may even die as a result of their injuries, but it is important to understand that self-harm is not a form of attempted suicide. People who harm themselves in the ways listed above are typically not attempting to end their own lives; rather, they are trying to exert control over issues such as psychological pain and other problems that they feel are beyond their ability to otherwise influence.
Regardless of why a person engages in self-harm, or which types of self-harm he or she inflicts upon him- or herself, this is a dangerous behavior that is symptomatic of a mental health disorder or other underlying issue. People who have been harming themselves are in need of professional help. At Westend Hospital, the skilled and dedicated members of our treatment teams are prepared to provide the specialized programming that can empower men and women to overcome the compulsion to engage in self-harm.
Helping a Loved One or Family Member Get Treatment
If you have discovered that a loved one has been engaging in self-harm, it is important to understand three facts:
- Your loved one is in crisis and needs professional help.
- Self-harm is a dangerous behavior that may be symptomatic of a mental health disorder.
- You can play an essential role in ensuring that he or she gets that help.
To achieve the objective of getting your loved one the professional help that he or she needs, you may need to take a number of steps, some of which may appear to be daunting. However, when confronted with a particularly difficult step, focus on the facts listed above, and remember that what you are doing can have a life-changing (and possibly life-saving) impact on your loved one’s life:
- Talk to your loved one. This may not be easy, and the conversation may be stressful for you both. But it is important for you to understand what your loved one has been experiencing, and what his or her attitude is toward getting treatment. This conversation will inform your next steps.
- If your loved one admits that he or she has a problem and needs care, you should immediately begin to research the types of treatment that appear to be most effective and identify programs that provide this level of care. Make appointments to visit programs or speak to representatives over the phone. Provide your loved one with transportation, offer to accompany him or her to these appointments, and provide whatever other tangible support is necessary to get him or her into a program.
- If your loved one is hesitant to enter a program, or is dismissive or hostile to the suggestion, then your challenge may be a bit more difficult. In such a case, your first responsibility should involve ensuring that your loved one is safe. You should involve a small group of trusted friends and/or close family members to help you with this. If you fear that your loved one is in immediate danger of inflicting serious harm upon him- or herself, contact an emergency crisis hotline.
- If your loved one is not in immediate danger, work with your small group of trusted friends and family members to find appropriate treatment programs, and learn how best to talk about treatment with a person who is resistant to the idea. You do not want to argue, threaten, or issue ultimatums; however, neither do you want to allow the self-harm to continue unabated. Program representatives, your family physician, and local mental health advocacy groups may be able to help you learn how to convince your loved one to get help.
Of course, it is essential to remember that treatment is one step in what may be a lifelong process. Before, during, and after your loved one is in treatment, ensure that he or she has no reason to question your continued love and support.
Why Seek Treatment at Westend Hospital
Continuing to inflict harm on one’s body can have a devastating impact on a person’s ability to live healthy and productive lives. And even though most people who engage in self-harm do not intend to kill themselves, they may end up doing just that, either immediately or through long-term damage to their bodies and minds. People who engage in self-harm expose themselves to infections, organ damage, blood-borne pathogens, and a host of additional negative physical outcomes. The self-loathing that can lead to episodes of self-harm, and the shame and guilt that often follows these experiences, can have a negative impact on a person’s self-esteem and mental health.
The secrecy and deceptiveness that accompany self-harm can drive a wedge between individuals who engage in this practice and those who could be sources of assistance and support. Self-harm can lead to withdrawal and isolation. As the behavior continues, people may turn to increasingly severe and/or more dangerous forms of self-harm, and may engage in this behavior more frequently. Both of these outcomes can increase the risk of catastrophe. Yet with the effective professional help that is available at Westend Hospital, men and women who have been engaging in self-harm can learn to control their urges, modify their behavior, and once again live healthier lives.
Types of Treatment Offered at Westend Hospital
At Westend Hospital, we are proud to provide life-changing treatment to adults ages 18 and above who are struggling with a range of mental health disorders, including but not limited to self-harm, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and depression.
When a man or women enters Westend Hospital, he or she can expect to receive world-class clinical services, to be provided with an individualized treatment plan that has been designed specifically to meet his or her unique needs, and to be treated with the utmost dignity and respect. Throughout an individual’s time at Westend Hospital, he or she will work closely with talented and compassionate professionals who will be focused on monitoring his or her progress and offering the personalized care that will alleviate the compulsion to engage in self-harm and improve his or her quality of life.
While an individual is receiving care for self-harm at Westend Hospital, the following elements may be incorporated into her his or her treatment plan:
Medication management: The symptoms of certain mental health disorders respond well to treatment with prescription medications. If a client is experiencing a disorder or disorders that may be treated with such medications, he or she can receive effective and responsive medication management services while being treated at Westend Hospital. Services provided to medication management clients include three weekly meetings with a psychiatrist as well as round-the-clock nursing supervision and care.
Individual therapy: One-on-one sessions between a client and his or her therapist can provide invaluable opportunities for individuals to process successes and setbacks, discuss issues related to the treatment of self-harm, and address matters that the client may be unwilling to bring up during group therapy sessions. At Westend, individual therapy sessions are conducted on an as-needed basis based upon the preferences of each client and the determinations of his or her treatment team.
Group therapy: Group therapy is a foundational element of treatment at Westend Hospital. During group therapy sessions, clients who have been struggling with self-harm have the opportunity to share their thoughts and insights, learn from the experiences of others, and practice healthy interpersonal communication skills, all under the guidance and supervision of experienced professionals. At Westend Hospital, group therapy sessions may be led by a nurse, social worker, or activity therapist. Groups are held on a daily basis. While the specific content of any group will be influenced by the contributions of group members, the following are among the general topics that may be addressed:
- Anger management
- Coping skills
- Grief therapy
- Medication compliance and management
- Relapse prevention
- Stress management
Activity therapy: Clients who are being treated for self-harm at Westend Hospital also have the opportunity to participate in a variety of activity therapy sessions. Activity therapy features several innovative and interactive techniques that can help individuals to manage their symptoms of self-harm. Activity therapy also offers customized instruction in how to make the healthiest and most productive use of a client’s leisure time, and provides clients with new skills that they can develop and enjoy long after they have returned home.
Family therapy: At Westend Hospital, we are keenly aware of the impact that a client’s struggles with self-harm can have on loved ones, and we also understand the essential role that family members can play in a client’s continued progress during and after he or she is in treatment with us. For these reasons, we are proud to provide family therapy sessions on an as-needed basis. Conducted by an experienced social worker, family therapy sessions allow loved ones to address personal concerns, strengthen familial bonds, and learn how best to support the client’s continued healing after he or she has returned home.
The goal of Westend Hospital is to provide clients who have been engaging in self-harm with the assessments, treatment, and continuing support that they need, based upon their unique strengths, needs, and goals. To learn more about our programming, please contact us at your convenience. We look forward to answering all of your questions and helping you determine if Westend Hospital is the perfect place for you or someone you care about.