Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues can affect any family, at any time. Buts stigmas around these issues can prevent parents from reaching out for help, for fear that they or their child will be judged.

Fortunately, there’s hope. People are breaking down barriers and talking more openly about mental illness and mental health issues. And with increased awareness and visibility comes greater access to resources for parents who struggle with these challenges.

These videos offer parental support and information on topics such as depression, self-harm, and how to obtain the help your child needs.

Why Do Kids Self-Injure?

Dr. Nancy Rivas
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
1240 Iroquois Avenue, Suite 100
630.881.6604
nancy.rivasphd@gmail.com

-People who repeatedly injure themselves are using self-injury as an emotional regulation strategy.

“Emotional regulation strategy” is just our professional way of saying that kids self-injure in order to try to feel BETTER. Many parents worry that kids who cut themselves are suicidal — that they actually want to die or are trying to kill themselves. However, that is actually a completely separate issue. Habitual self-injury is more like a negative coping strategy — something they repeatedly do when they are overwhelmed and need to manage their emotions somehow.

Now if you are like many parents I’ve talked to, you are probably thinking, “How could that make anyone feel BETTER?” Great question and I’ll give you 5 answers.

-There are some kids who feel better cutting themselves because they are harsh perfectionists who believe they deserve to be punished, and this is how they punish themselves.

-There are some who don’t know how to express their anger, and so this is how the anger comes out — turned against their bodies.

-There are some who feel that the concrete physical pain is so much more manageable that the swirl of conflicting emotions, so and it calms them to transfer all of that into the physical realm and then they can move on in their heads.

-And last, there are some who have been holding in all of their feelings for years. Though they seem fine on the outside, inside they are struggling and they don’t know how to express it any other way, so the cutting is a way of communicating, of demonstrating physically, I am hurting and I need help.

-Self-injury can be addictive. Either immediately or over time, people can come to the point where even when they want to stop and try to stop, they find themselves unable to stop without getting help.

Therapists usually use Dialectical Behavioral Therapy to help people who self-injure learn positive emotional regulation strategies to replace the self-injury.

DISCLAIMER:
Conversations with experts are intended for general information only, and are not meant to provide specific advice, diagnosis, and does not constitute professional care. If this is an emergency, please dial 911 immediately.