Gemma Collins says she didnt get right help for self-harm – heres how to support a loved one

In a recent documentary named Gemma Collins: Self-Harm, the former TOWIE star, 41, opened up on her 20-year battle with self-harm and shared a side to her we'd been yet to see.

During the hard-hitting documentary, Gemma had a heartfelt and honest conversation with her mum as she asked: "But what's more important, life being busy or your daughter hurting herself?"

The duo then spoke openly about Gemma’s experience with self-harm, as Gemma asked her mum: "Did you not want to get help?"

To which Joan replied: "Well, no, because you’re my daughter and my eyes are on you the whole time. We didn’t talk about it because I didn’t want to make a big thing about it, so we totally just carried on as normal and forgot about it basically. That’s how I dealt with it.

"It was just like don’t bring attention to it. She’ll get over it. But obviously I had my eyes on you if something did happen or you went weird or whatever, but you didn’t."

Gemma then assured her mum that it wasn’t her fault as Joan struggled to understand why her daughter did it.

Following the documentary, here are ways you can support a loved one if they're going through the same as Gemma.

Helping someone who self-harms

It can be difficult to know what to say or how to address the situation when you find out someone close to you is self harming.

Mind has lots of helpful advice to help you, including how to overcome any initial feelings you might have.

Their first piece of advice reads: "Try not to panic or overreact. The way you respond to your friend or family member will have an impact on how much they open up to you and other people about their self-harm in the future."

And it is important that you remember "self-harm is usually someone's way of managing very hard feelings or experiences."

Mind adds: "In the majority of cases it is different to suicidal feelings."

There are a lot of things you can do to make a different to someone who self-harms.

Mind lists these as:

  • Try to be non-judgemental.
  • Let the person know that you are there for them.
  • Relate to them as a whole person, not just their self-harm.
  • Try to have empathy and understanding about what they are doing.
  • Let them be in control of their decisions.
  • Offer to help them find support (see Useful contacts).
  • Remind them of their positive qualities and things they do well.
  • Try to have honest communication, where you take responsibility for any fears you have.

As well as there being a list of things that can help, there's equally a list of things that aren't encouraged when you find about someone self harming.

Mind lists these as the following:

  • Trying to force change.
  • Acting or communicating in a way that threatens to take control away from your loved one.
  • Either ignoring their injuries or overly focusing on them.
  • Labelling self-harm as 'attention seeking'.

"Although it often isn't, self-harm can sometimes be a person's way of asking for attention. If so, it is important to remember that there is nothing wrong with wanting attention, and that deep distress can get in the way of someone's ability to be direct about what they need," Mind adds.

As well as short term support, Samaritans also list some ways in which you can help in the longer term.

They say you don't need to have all the answers right away, adding: "People often don’t want you to solve their problems when they open up. They want someone who can be understanding and won’t be judgemental.

"You might not feel like you’re doing enough by just listening, but it’s the most important thing you can do."

Samaritans also advice having patience with the person, and helping them to access further support.

The website says: "You can give them a helping hand, for example by offering to be there with them when they make a phone call, or to go along to their appointment with them.

"Of course, if you’re supporting a child as a parent or a teacher then your role in ensuring they get the support they need from their GP and/or school is particularly important and this process will be more hands-on."

You can find more information on how to help here at Mind, and here on the Samaritans website

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