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Self-Injury

Self-injury is hurting yourself on purpose, but not intending to die as a result. It isn’t a mental illness in itself, but can be a way of dealing with deep distress and emotional pain. You may use it to express feelings you can’t put into words, distract you from your life, or release emotional pain. Afterwards, you probably feel better—at least for a little while. But then the painful feelings return, and you feel the urge to hurt yourself again. 

It’s important to know that there are options for treatment and prevention. 

 

What is normal?

If you're injuring yourself on purpose, even in a minor way, or if you have thoughts of harming yourself, reach out for help. Any form of intentional self-injury is a sign of bigger issues that need to be addressed.

 

What are common signs and symptoms?

Self-injury usually occurs in private, and the arms, legs, and front of the torso are the usual targets. Other signs that someone you care about might be self-injuring include:

  • Scars, often in patterns
  • Fresh cuts, scratches, bruises, bite marks or other wounds
  • Excessive rubbing of an area to create a burn
  • Keeping sharp objects on hand
  • Wearing long sleeves or long pants, even in hot weather
  • Frequent reports of accidental injury
  • Difficulties in interpersonal relationships
  • Behavioural and emotional instability and unpredictability
  • Statements of helplessness, hopelessness, or worthlessness

 

Should I seek help?

If you're injuring yourself, even in a minor way, or if you have thoughts of harming yourself, reach out for help. Talk to someone you trust who can help you take the first steps to successful treatment. While you may feel ashamed and embarrassed, you can find supportive, caring, and nonjudgmental help.

If someone you care about is self-injuring, you can help them get help. For a child, start by consulting your doctor or pediatrician who can provide an initial evaluation or a referral to a mental health professional. For a teen friend, suggest that your friend talk to parents, a teacher, a school counsellor, or another trusted adult. For an adult, gently express your concern and encourage the person to seek medical and mental health treatment.

If you've injured yourself severely or believe your injury may be life-threatening, or if you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 immediately.

26 Program(s)

IWK Mental Health and Addictions Program

IWK
This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

The IWK Mental Health and  Addictions Program provides specialized care throughout the province for children and youth up until their 19th birthday within a patient and family...

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Children / Youth

Canadian Mental Health Association - Colchester East Hants Branch

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

The Canadian Mental Health Association, Colchester East Hants Branch provides public education, advocacy, and a resource center to support the resiliency and recovery of...

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Adults / Seniors

Canadian Mental Health Association - Halifax-Dartmouth Branch

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

The Canadian Mental Health Association, Halifax-Dartmouth Branch works at the community level and facilitates access to the resources people require to maintain and improve...

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Adults / Seniors

Canadian Mental Health Association - Nova Scotia Division

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Canadian Mental Health Associations in Nova Scotia are the oldest community-based mental health and addictions charitable organizations in the province, founded in 1908. The...

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Adults / Seniors

Healthy Minds Cooperative

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Healthy Minds Cooperative is an innovative mental health cooperative that provides a variety of peer-based services to people with lived experience of mental health issues and...

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Adults / Seniors

Hope for Wellness HelpLine

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

The Hope for Wellness HelpLine offers immediate mental health counselling and crisis intervention to all Indigenous peoples across Canada. Experienced and culturally competent...

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Adults / Seniors / Youth
First Nations, Indigenous

Eskasoni Mental Health

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Eskasoni Mental Health Services (EMHS) provides a wide range of services to the Mi’kmaq people of Eskasoni, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The Tui'kn Residential School Survivor...

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Adults / Seniors / Youth
First Nations, Indigenous

Caregivers Nova Scotia

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Caregivers Nova Scotia provides free programs, services, information, and advocacy for family and friend caregivers. We are dedicated to providing recognition and practical assistance to friends and family giving care.

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Adults / Seniors
Caregiver, Family

Kids Help Phone

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Kids Help Phone is Canada’s only 24/7, national support service. We offer professional counselling, information and referrals and volunteer-led, text-based support to young...

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Children / Youth

211

211
This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

211 is a free, confidential information and referral service that can connect you to thousands of programs and services offered by local community groups, nonprofits and government departments across Nova Scotia, 24/7.

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Adults / Children / Seniors / Youth

Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services - Mental Health Programs and Services

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS) is responsible for administering Non-Public Property (NPP) on behalf of the Chief of the Defence Staff and for delivering...

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Adults / Seniors
Canadian Forces, RCMP

Veterans Affairs Canada Assitance Service

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Veterans Affairs provide targeted services and benefits to improve well-being including support and services related to your physical and mental health and wellness.The VAC...

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Adults / Seniors
Canadian Forces, RCMP

Health Psychology

Health Psychology offers psychological interventions for those with chronic and acute health conditions. The main focus is on the patient's mental and emotional reaction to an illness or their recovery from an illness.

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Adults

Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Program

Seniors mental health services provide assessment, consultation and treatments to:

  • seniors aged 65 and older for a new onset of mental health challenges
  • individuals of...

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Seniors

Mental Health Day Treatment Program

The Mental Health Day Treatment Program is a full-time, six week intensive group psychotherapy program. The program is for individuals with mental illness who also have long...

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Adults

Adult Neurodevelopmental Stabilization Unit - Dual Diagnosis Program (Intellectual Disability in combination with Mental Illness)

The Adult Neurodevelopmental Stabilization Unit (ANSU) is an acute care unit that provides services for persons with intellectual disability and acute mental illness that...

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Adults

Community Transition Program (CTP)

The Community Transition Program (CTP) helps adults who have complex (mental and physical) health and behavioural challenges, and residential/social support needs. The goal is...

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Adults

Community Outreach Assessment Support and Treatment Team (COAST) - Dual Diagnosis Program (Intellectual Disability in combination with Mental Illness)

The community outreach assessment support and treatment team provides services for persons with both intellectual disability and also mental illness. These services include:

...

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Adults

Seniors Mental Health Services

Seniors mental health services provide assessment, consultation and treatments to:

- seniors aged 65 and older for a new onset of mental health challenges;
- individuals of...

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Seniors

School Mental Health (SchoolsPlus)

The school mental health clinicians provide individual and group therapy, mental health and addictions education for school staff and consultation services. Clinicians are on...

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Children / Youth

Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Crisis Line

The Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Crisis Line provides crisis intervention for children, youth and adults experiencing a mental health crisis or mental distress.

...

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Adults / Children / Seniors / Youth

Inpatient Mental Health Services

Inpatient mental health services are available for those who cannot be safely assessed, diagnosed and stabilized in the community. 

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Adults / Seniors

First Nations Services

Mental Health clinicians work as part of the first nations health care team in several first nations communities. The Mental Health Clinician provides assessment, diagnosis...

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Adults / Children / Seniors / Youth
First Nations, Indigenous

Adult Community Mental Health and Addictions Services

Community Mental Health and Addictions includes a team of mental health and addictions professionals who provide services on an outpatient basis. The team provides assessment...

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Adults / Seniors

Child and Adolescent Services

Child and Adolescent Services/Child Youth and Family/Child and Adolescent Outpatient Clinical Services provide mental health and addiction services to children and youth...

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Children / Youth

CaperBase Outreach Services

CaperBase is a one-stop shop resource centre for youth up to age 24.

We work with youth, families, schools, and community organizations to provide a safe, youth-friendly space that is confidential and non-judgmental.

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Youth

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