Te whakamamae i a koe anō Self harm

Self harm is when you hurt your body on purpose. It can affect anyone, and takes many different forms. More common ways include cutting the skin on your arms, wrists or thighs, burning your skin, picking at wounds or scars, self-hitting or deliberately overdosing on medication, drugs or other harmful substances.

Why people self harm

Often when you self harm it is because you are trying to cope with strong feelings and emotions. It lets you express how distressed you are, and it can feel like it relieves tension. Sometimes it does both.

Many people who self harm have had tough experiences or damaging relationships that they are trying to cope with. Sometimes you may not even be aware of the feelings and emotions that you are trying to cope with. But you just know you feel better when you self harm.

Self harm may make you feel better in the short term, but it does not help you overcome a problem over time.

Self care for self harm

If you use self harm as a way of coping with difficult feelings, it can be really hard to stop — self harm can:

  • become addictive
  • damage your physical and mental health
  • damage relationships.

Learn what situations make you want to self harm (your triggers) and recognise when you might be about to self harm.

If you think you might self harm, think of things you can do instead. This might be:

  • reaching out to talk to someone you trust
  • doing some physical activity
  • painting
  • meditation
  • using an app such as Calm Harm.

Calm Harm app (external link)

Keep a record of these things so you can use them when you need to do something.

Look after your general health by getting getting enough sleep, and eating well. 

Keep good contact with your whānau and friends who you can talk to.

Getting help for self harm

The best thing to do is talk to someone about it.

  • See your healthcare provider.
  • Talk to your school counsellor, another counsellor, or a mental health professional.

If you feel the first person you speak to is not helping in the way you want, keep trying until you find someone you are comfortable with, and who can guide you in the right direction.

If you are concerned someone you know is self harming, there are ways you can support them.

Worried about someone else? — Mental Health Foundation (external link)

In a crisis

Mental Health Foundation

Indepth information, including signs to look for, what to do in an emergency, getting help and more.


Advice your young people about self-harm and how to get help.


Information about self harm in tamariki (children), how to help and who to go to.

Clinical review

This content was written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. It has been adapted for Health Information and Services.

Clinical advisers — HealthInfo (external link)

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