How Harrogate counselling service helped teenager’s self-harming problem

After the Harrogate Advertiser broke the news that 37 10-14 year olds were admitted to Harrogate hospital for self-harm in 2013, one 13-year-old girl decided to share her personal story.

By Dan Windham
Tuesday, 18th November 2014, 10:47 am
An actor playing the part of a bullied schoolgirl
An actor playing the part of a bullied schoolgirl

The girl, who wished to remain nameless but has spoken with her family’s consent, said she turned to self-harming as a coping mechanism after suffering from bullying at school and family problems at home.

As she tried to adapt to life at her new high school and dealing with a divorce and death in the family, the pressure on her and her feelings of isolation and depression mounted.

She began self harming after her friends told her that was how they dealt with pressure and said that it ‘transferred the pain from mental to physical’.

The self harming began in July 2013 and, after being transferred by her GP, she was treated by Relate Mid-Yorkshire in Harrogate who helped her cope with the problem.

She said: “It was at school when people started calling me fat that the pressure began to get to me. A lot of people who self-harm start at school because you just want to fit in and make that good first impression.

“I began to see the Community Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service but my self harming continued and was getting more severe..

However, after being referred to councillors at Relate Mid-Yorkshire in Harrogate, she was given alternative ways of coping with the stress without self-harming.

With one session of counselling a week for 12 weeks, she said she has ‘found a way out’ of self harming but feels it is not something people can be cured of.

She said: “You will always remember what you have gone through but now, thanks to Relate, I have found better ways of coping.

“I have been talking to my mum a lot more and I also like putting my music on. I have got a lot closer with my friends so they have helped me through a lot of problems as well.

“I think bullying is a constant problem for young people. I would say that everyone at school has at least one person that bullies them.

“A lot of the insults go over the top of my head now so what used to affect me doesn’t anymore. People used to say things about my weight and my family but I don’t take as much notice of it now.

Despite being aware of the dangers of self harming, she said that she did not think about the situations she was putting herself in as she ‘didn’t want to hurt anymore from the bullying.’

Since then she has become stronger with Relate’s counselling and is now calling on people in similar situations to speak up and seek help.

She said: “It’s the hardest thing to do to ask for help but, in the end it can be the best thing you do. You have to remember there are other people going through it as well so it’s important you ask for help.

“If I had known about Relate sooner, the problem would not have been so bad. I don’t feel ashamed about it anymore because you don’t feel in control even though you choose to do it.

“You feel like you are made to because you don’t know another way of coping. I wanted to speak out so more people in the same position as me can be helped.”