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Loyalist student wants to raise awareness about self-injury

By Haley Rose [1]

BELLEVILLE – Kaylea Saint, a child and youth care student at Loyalist College, knows first hand what it’s like to deal with self-harm, the act of hurting oneself intentionally.

She said she has had many people in her life who have dealt with it.

“I got really sad. I wanted to help but I didn’t know how. I was afraid of making things worse,” she said, when finding out her sister struggled with cutting her herself.

As a result, Saint says she takes Self-Injury Awareness Day [2], recognized around the world on every March 1, very seriously. She  encourages people to not only raise awareness about it but to also educate themselves more about why people hurt themselves.

When Saint found out what her sister was going through she was in the process of getting childhood and adolescent mental health training through her program at school.

“My mom knew I was getting training so I could help her out but I can only imagine how helpless she must have felt as a parent because she didn’t know what to do,” Saint recalled.

She has also taken other courses to be fully certified in mental health training as well as Safe Talk, a program designed to help talk someone out of suicide.

“My mom still to this day will be in the car with me and thank me for helping my family out,” she said.

Youthab is a non-profit organization in Quinte that helps young people maintain safe and affordable housing, good mental health and employment.

Rachel Deline, a mental health therapist at the organization, said one of the ways they help people struggling is by showing them a plan, developed by staff, called Formula for Happiness. It encourages participants to be social, be active, be productive, help others, eat/sleep well and practice gratitude.

Deline also suggested some tips people could use instead of choosing to self harm: Hold an ice cube in one hand and squeeze it, snap an elastic band on your wrist, scream into a pillow, throw something soft against a wall as hard as you can, cry, or write on yourself with a red felt tip marker exactly where you would self harm but then use a black marker to draw stitches over top.

Youthab also holds a weekly walk-in counselling service in Trenton for those who may want to seek out help but not know where to go. Counselling takes place every Wednesday at 81 Dundas St. W in Trenton from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. It is free of charge and anyone between the ages of 16 to 24 is welcomed to come in. More information can be found by calling 613-969-0830.