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Hope Springs Eternal

After the hard year of 2020, Spring 2021 seems like a bright, shining beacon of light! One can breathe a sigh of relief at being able to be done with the snow, the hard weather that has kept us indoors, and the struggles which we have faced this past year. So, here’s to Spring! To flowers, blue skies, gentle winds, and fresh starts. As easy as this sounds however, many still struggle to do just that-begin a fresh start and have hope for brighter days, for change that really helps.

Self-Harm Awareness Month, also known as Self-Injury Awareness Month, is an annual global awareness event and campaign every March to raise awareness about self-harm and self-injury. There is help out there for everyone, and March is the month to share and communicate these resources.

In Chautauqua County, New York, NY Connects programs work with what is called the SPOA (single point of access) to help individuals and families to identify, support, and guide children, youth, and families in times of their great stress, trauma, and possible need for mental health support. There is a children’s SPOA and an adult SPOA available for those interested.

According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, self-harm or self-injury means hurting oneself on purpose. Hurting oneself is a sign of emotional distress. Self-harm is a behavior that indicates a need for better coping skills and most often occurs during the teenage and young adult years, though it can also happen later in life.

When a person is not sure how to deal with their emotions, or learned as a child to hide them, self-harm may feel like a release. Those at the most risk are people who have experienced trauma, neglect, or abuse. The urge to hurt yourself may start with an all-consuming anger, frustration, or pain. On the other hand, if a person doesn’t seem to feel emotion, they might cause themself physical pain in order to feel something “real” and replace that emotional numbness; this is a symptom of emotional pain that should be taken seriously (www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Common-with-Mental-Illness/Self-harm).

Again, there are support services to help cope with these feelings. One can call any NY Connects help line for more information or to be connected with the SPOA in our county’s Mental Health department. Spring brings new opportunities every year, but let this year be an opportunity for you. We can help, it’s what we do, but this year let the help be for you.

Call the Chautauqua County’s C-SPOA Coordinator for assistance at 716.753.4296 or the web site or visit www.chqgov.com/mental-hygiene/Childrens-SPOA.

NY Connects serves individuals with of all ages. We can help families, caregivers, friends/neighbors, and professionals, young adults, older adults, caregivers for people including children with special care needs. How to use the NY Connects? Call us at 716-753-4582, 716-363-4582, or 716-661-7582. Our e-mail is CCNYC@co.chautauqua.ny.us. The NY Connects Resource Directory www.nyconnects.ny.gov

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