What do you do when a student tells you they’re harming themselves? And why is self-harm an important topic to discuss in your ministry? Self-harm can be a difficult subject to navigate with students, but it’s not impossible. On this week’s episode, join ministry leaders for a conversation with licensed associate professional counselor, Kayla Lin, as they unpack what to do when a student admits to self-harm and how to approach the subject of self-harm in your ministry environment.



What is self-harm? (1:45)

Self-harm is used as a coping strategy when students don’t know how to handle intense emotions they are experiencing. (2:00)

Students can self-harm as a coping mechanism, a way to process grief, and a method of communicating that they are experiencing pain. (3:30)

Eating disorders can be a form of self-harm. (6:00)

Self-harm is an issue among both males and females. (8:00)

Students who self-harm can be impulsive in other areas of their lives. (12:30)

Are we doing students a disservice if we talk about self-harm from the stage? (14:50)

When we talk about self-harm from the stage, we are communicating that we can talk about it and that there is hope. (15:30)

Why is self-harm such a hard subject to talk about? (16:00)

The reason behind why they are self-harming is always different. (16:30)

How do you react to a student who tells you they are self-harming? (17:00)

Before reacting or asking more questions, affirm them for their courage in telling you. Say, “Thank you for telling me. I am so proud of you.” (18:30)

Once a student tells you they are self-harming, that information cannot just stay with you. Your next step is to involve parents and seek professional help. (19:00)

As a ministry leader, pay attention to the local school system and when students are learning about self-harm, suicide, and depression in health class. (21:00)

When you involve parents, school counselors, and other professionals after a student admits to harming themselves, you are communicating to the student you care about them. (22:00)

The onramp to self-harm is when emotions begin to intensify. (26:20)

You don’t necessarily need to give a specific self-harm talk in order to talk about the issue. (26:45)

Before we talk about self-harm from the stage, we need to have a process for how we will handle when a student admits to self-harm. (28:30)

Be sure to educate yourself about the topic of self-harm before you talk to students, parents, and small group leaders about it. (31:30)

Do not put pressure on yourself or your small group leaders in the role of being a professional counselor. (32:00)

There is a huge difference between what we are responsible with and what we are responsible for. (32:15)

Make sure your small group leaders are ready to lead students in conversation about self-harm before talking about it from stage. (32:30)

Even if your particular students are not self-harming, there is a high chance that their friends are. (34:30)

Helping students understand their role when their friends are self-harming is extremely beneficial to their own mental health. (34:30)

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