Parents urged to act early on self-harm

PREVENTIVE TOOLS: Counsellor Tracy Lynch is publishing a series of books to help young girls.  Picture: Marina Neil
PREVENTIVE TOOLS: Counsellor Tracy Lynch is publishing a series of books to help young girls. Picture: Marina Neil

 Tuesday's reports:

A TIGHES HILL counsellor says there are things parents can do to help children from as young as eight so they don’t intentionally self-harm when they’re older.

Yesterday, the Newcastle Herald reported incidences of self-harm were rising, with the number of 10- to 14-year-olds admitted to hospitals in the region nearly doubling  in the past five years.

For 25 years,  Tracy Lynch has helped young girls as a family counsellor.

She has  noticed an increase in intentional self-harming, especially in the past five years.

She  said parents needed to talk to their children – from as young as eight – to help build emotional resilience and coping strategies for when they’re older.

It was important not to make the issue just about self-harm, though, she said.

“One  in four young people struggle with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression and this is often what is behind self-harming behaviour,” Ms Lynch said.

She believed that more family breakdowns, body image issues, bullying and social media played a role in the increasing prevalence of self-harming among young girls.

“It’s like all this pressure is building up under the surface [for these girls],’’ she said.

Noticing a lack of  good preventive tools  for  parents, she is publishing a series of books  to help  girls ‘‘navigate tricky feelings’’.

Called The Bella Journey, they centre around a young girl who goes through tough times and questions her value in the world.

“We need to help girls develop a strong sense of self-awareness and provide them with tools which will help prevent self-harm on all levels, both emotional and physical,” Ms Lynch said.

“We are in need of good preventive tools that help parents talk openly with their children about how to understand difficult feelings.”

For more information visit tracylynch.com.au