SIAD Self-Injury Action Day
Self-Injury Awareness Day is something like 25 years old, maybe 30. I get it wrong every time I estimate. LifeSIGNS is over 20 year’s old and we’ve always supported SIAD, maybe bringing it to the UK from its origin in the USA.
Sure, some people these days say ‘SHAD’ for Self-Harm Awareness Day and maybe that’s because ‘self-harm’ is a very very broad umbrella term that healthcare professionals often use with people, with young people, as it’s non-specific. It might relate to self-destructive behaviours, even eating disorders. We don’t say ‘SHAD’, we stick with SIAD because our focus is on self-injurious behaviour only. We can respect other awareness days and other organisations that focus on eating disorders and drug and alcohol misuse; we, as an SI organisation, don’t need to consider the umbrella term of ‘self-harm’.
Is awareness enough? Have two or three decades of awareness raising changed the world? Well, maybe a bit, yeah. More doctors, nurses, counsellors, and healthcare workers are aware and educated about self-injury. More mental-health organisations reference self-injury on their websites and in their work, and it is easier for a person in distress to get help and information even if they don’t know that what they do is called ‘self-injury’.
Is awareness enough? No. Further change is needed. We need to become more action focused. We need SIAD to to be Self-Injury Action Day, a focal point in the year where all service organisations, like schools and universities, the NHS, doctor practices, and mental health organisations check themselves for knowledge and training gaps.
It’s ridiculous and heartbreaking to still hear how people who seek help for their self-injury, for their stress and distress, can still be dismissed as ‘attention seeking’ or how a teacher will panic and assume it’s about suicide.
And there are always new young teens who self-discover self-injury, there are also adults and older people who feel like the healthcare services have nothing for them, that they’re beyond help, beyond recovery.
There’s so much more to do. Self-Injury Action Day is the time to reassess your approach to the self-injury recovery journey, refresh your policies and processes, and recommit to treating people as whole individuals – with respect and empathy.