Help for those who self-harm

Mary-Jane Bell’s support group service is also available to parents and friends who are at a loss about how to help their loved ones who are self-harming. Picture: Bruce Hunt d331916
Mary-Jane Bell’s support group service is also available to parents and friends who are at a loss about how to help their loved ones who are self-harming. Picture: Bruce Hunt d331916

It can affect anyone and leaves not only the sufferer but their families feeling isolated. One of the more stigmatised forms of mental illness is self-harm.

This sense of isolation that self-harm brings is particularly heightened when the area they live in does not provide services to cater to their unique needs.

Mary-Jane Bell runs a self-harm support group in the northern suburbs. The group was founded in 2007 with the aim of helping those in the community who self-harm and aiding with the recovery.

Ms Bell said she had become aware of the growing need for support in Rockingham due to the amount of calls she had received within the past few weeks from residents in the area.

‘I have had 10 enquiries within a month about my group,’ she said.

‘That tells me there is definitely something wrong to have such a high number.’

The calls prompted Ms Bell to set up a service in Rockingham, which will be held at the June |O’Connor Wellness Centre. It will be the first self-harm group that has operated in the area.

Ms Bell said professional help was available but having experienced the condition herself, it was not enough.

‘I needed more than that so that is why I started the group,’ she said.

‘It’s important that there is a group so people can go and get help.

‘A lot of people think they are alone but there is help for them on their journey.’

She said many who self-harmed had experienced a traumatic event in their childhoods, such as sexual abuse, but it was not always the case.

‘The disease does not discriminate; it affects any age, gender or race,’ she said.

‘Self-harm carries a stigma that needs to be addressed; many people think it’s an attention seeking thing. But who in their right mind would do it?

‘This is the problem ” people afflicted with this aren’t in their right mind.’

She said the group was also available to parents and friends who were at a loss about how to help loved ones who are self-harming. The group will address the issue and help with strategies to cope in an informal way.

‘We don’t mention it, we just are here to talk and if the person wants to take it further then we are there for that too,’ she said.

The meetings for the group will start next month at the June |O’Connor Wellness Centre in Rockingham.

For more information, call Monique Holland at the centre on 9527 9431.