An upcoming workshop will try to shed some light on the often hidden issue of self-harming.
“Self-harm is a widely misunderstood topic,” explained Jenn Tatton with the Yorkton Mental Health Drop In Centre. “It is the deliberate cutting, burning, hitting, or scratching of the skin in order to experience relief from uncomfortable feelings and situations. Helping professionals, family, and friends are often unsure how to help an individual that self-harms. Self-harm is often seen as a suicide attempt or a way of getting attention or simply a phase that someone is going through. It is none of those things. It is a method of coping with painful emotions and stresses in a person’s life.”
And it is a growing area of concern in Yorkton.
“Every agency we have talked to at this point, including schools have said that this is a serious issue,” said Tatton. “Youth of all ages are engaging in this behaviour and we need to address it so that these youth know that they are not alone in what they are suffering with. They need to know that there is someone out there that cares and understands the problem and can help them.
“It is also important to note that youth are not the only people engaging in this behaviour. It can continue into adulthood and can become a lifelong addiction and one that becomes harder to give up the longer one has been engaging in the behaviour. The current statistics from Nixon and Health (2009) suggest that between one and four per cent of the population self-injure and that the prevalence for youth is 15-20 per cent.”
Tatton said the workshop is targeted at anyone seeking to understand the problem better, in particular professionals who interact with youth.
“The workshop is targeted at helping professionals such as school counsellors, teachers, family support workers and such to help them understand and better provide services to these individuals that self-harm,” she said. “The hope is that, if more people in the community understand self-harm, there will be less stigma on the people that do it and then they will feel more comfortable seeking help for what they are doing.”
As such the workshop will focus on understanding the problem better.
“The workshop is designed to provide information to help people understand self-injury and how to help someone who suffers from it,” said Tatton.
“Topics will include understanding what self-harm is and why someone might engage in this behaviour, how to identify someone with a problem and how to approach them about it, how to help someone who self-harms, as well as to address a person’s own personal feelings about self-harm. I think this is extremely important because, if a person wants to help someone who self-harms, they need to deal with any issues they may have surrounding the topic such as disgust, fear, or repulsion.”
The workshop is Oct. 28 and 29 at SIGN on Broadway from 9am-4pm both days. The cost to attend is $250.00 and attendees must be registered by Oct. 15.
And the help won’t be restricted to a two-day workshop.
Plans are under way to launch a support group in the city.
“The group is kind of my baby,” said Tatton. “I suggested it because I went through the same thing when I was young and I think it is so important that individuals have a place they can go that will help them deal with the issues surrounding this behaviour. They need to know that they are not alone and that there is someone out there that can help them understand why they do what they do and not judge them as attention-grabbers or freaks.
“The goal is to create a safe space for people who self-harm where they can learn healthier ways of coping and understand their behaviour better without fear of being judged or ridiculed. We are also partnering with SIGN on this project, specifically the Life Skills Program Coordinator who will be my co-facilitator for this group.
The support group will be starting on Nov. 4, and will take place on Mondays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Mental Health Drop In Centre at SIGN on North.
If anyone would like more information about the upcoming workshop, they can contact Jackie Washenfelder at yorktonmentalhealthdro...@gmail.com or at 306-783-8135 or if they would like more information about the upcoming support group or about self-harm in general, they can contact Jenn Tatton at jtyorktonmentalhealthdro...@gmail.com or at 306-783-8135.