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Myth Busting Teen Mental Health – Self-Harm

Debunking myths about adolescent mental healthviolence-self-harm

Although society has made some headway in reducing the stigma and misinformation about general mental health issues, the public’s understanding of self-harm remains decades behind. Let’s debunk some common myths about adolescent self-harm.

Myth: ‘Self-harm means cutting right? Only emos and goths do that.’

Self-harm refers to a range of behaviours that are purposely inflicted to cause damage to the body. It can include cutting, but also refers to scratching, picking at wounds, burning, pinching, hitting, head banging, and minor overdosing. Self-harm can also be in the form of excessive risk-taking that is above and beyond typical adolescent risk-taking.

It is a misconception that only ’emos’ and ‘goths’ self-harm. Although self-harm can be part of adolescent subculture experimentation, it is more often a sign that a teenager is experiencing unmanageable distress. Self-harm becomes a way of coping with distress that provides temporary relief from emotional pain.

Myth: ‘Self-harm is all about attention-seeking. If a person was really depressed enough to cut themselves then they would probably just commit suicide.’

Self-harm is not about attention-seeking. It is often a secretive and private behaviour. For a teenager, self-harm is a way of coping with unmanageable distress, and can be a medium to communicate that distress to others. Self-harm should never be dismissed as attention-seeking.

A person who cuts themselves is not necessarily suicidal. Cutting behaviour can be suicidal, non-suicidal, or a mix of both. It is important to remember that suicide risk is not static. A teenager who displays non-suicidal self-harm can become suicidal at another point in time.

Any teen who self-harms should undergo a thorough and comprehensive suicide risk assessment by a registered mental health professional. Their suicide risk should be closely monitored and assessed at regular intervals.

Myth: ‘I can punish my teen so that they stop self-harming. That will solve the problem.’

Punishing a teen for self-harming does not solve the problem. Cutting is a symptom of a deeper issue – unmanageable distress. Stopping the cutting via punishment may actually worsen their distress, especially if the teen lacks healthy and effective coping strategies.

Here are some suggestions for what you can do instead of punishing your teen:

  • Be an active listener
  • Validating their feelings
  • Be emotionally and physically present for them
  • Engage in joint problem solving

Always seek advice from a registered child psychologist if you suspect that your teen may be self-harming.

Written by Leeran Gold, Psychologist in our Forensic Service.

At Promises Healthcare, we are committed to helping you through your journey to recovery. Discover a new life and find renewed hope. If you or someone you know needs mental health support, please contact our clinic for inquiries and consultations.

For after-hours crisis support contact your local mental health service or emergency services.

In Singapore: IMH 24-hour helpline +65 6389 2222, Ambulance 995.

‘What is Forensic Psychology?’

‘What is Forensic Psychology?’

forensic-psychology

Forensic psychology is as interesting as it sounds. People often imagine forensic psychologists running around in bullet proof vests catching criminals and solving crimes (think ‘Elizabeth Keen’ – forensic psychologist/FBI agent from hit television show Blacklist). Although real world forensic psychologists are more likely to be sitting behind a desk, there is still excitement, adventure, and risk in our daily lives.

What is forensic psychology?

Broadly, forensic psychology is the intersection of psychology and the law. This can include the practical application of clinical psychology in forensic settings. Forensic psychologists have specialised training in mental health and the law.

What settings do forensic psychologists work in?

Forensic psychologists work in a broad range of settings. The most common settings include;

  • Prisons
  • Courts
  • Inpatient mental health facilities
  • Government mental health departments
  • Private practice
  • Universities

Who does a forensic psychologist work with?

Forensic psychologists can work with both offenders and victims of crime, as well as those who are at risk of becoming offenders. People of any age, background, gender, ethnicity, race, and religion may become involved in the legal and/or mental health systems and therefore come under the scope of a forensic psychologist.

Forensic psychologists usually work with other professionals involved in the legal and mental health systems too. This can include legal professionals, law enforcement, government departments, prison staff, medical professionals, academics, and community organisations.

What does a day in the life of a forensic psychologist look like?

A day in the life of a forensic psychologist looks very different depending on the setting they work in. Here are the common functions of a forensic psychologist across most settings:

  • Forensic mental health assessment – this could be in a custodial setting (such as a remand center) or a private setting (such as a clinic taking referrals). The psychologist will assess a person to see whether they have a mental health concern, how it is linked to their legal issue, and make recommendations for treatment.
  • Forensic risk assessment – this can also be across a wide range of settings, but may be more common in a court setting, or inpatient mental health setting. The psychologist will assess a person’s risk of reoffending (violence, sex, stalking etc.) as well as their suicide risk, and make recommendations for risk management and reduction.
  • Court appearances – forensic psychologists working in any setting will often attend court to answer questions about reports they have written about a particular client. They may be asked to make recommendations to the court for the treatment and sentencing of an offender. Forensic psychologists are also asked to make recommendations to determine whether someone is ready for release from prison. Some forensic psychologists who have many years experience and specialisation in a particular niche become expert witnesses for the courts.
  • Group therapy – this can be in any setting. A forensic psychologist will conduct group therapy for a range of presenting problems. Common issues might be sex offender group therapy, violent offender group therapy, domestic violence group therapy, and group therapy for addiction recovery. The focus of group therapy is usually identifying the underlying causes for offending behaviour, and creating relapse prevention plans to reduce a person’s risk of reoffending.
  • Individual therapy – this can also be in any setting. A forensic psychologist can conduct individual therapy for a broad range of presenting problems. Individual therapy usually focuses on treating the underlying mental health problem that may be contributing to a person’s risk of reoffending. It can also include preparing a person for transition into or out of prison or inpatient settings, skill building, and motivating offenders to change.
  • Paperwork – we do spend a great deal of time writing case notes, scoring assessment measures, reading through collateral information, and writing reports.
  • Other things can include teaching, research, workshops, training, and consultancy.

Written by Leeran Gold, Psychologist in our Forensic Service.

At Promises Healthcare, we are committed to helping you through your journey to recovery. Discover a new life and find renewed hope. If you or someone you know needs mental health support, please contact our clinic for inquiries and consultations.

Myth Busting Mental Health – Youth Suicide

Myth Busting Mental Health – Youth Suicide

youth-suicideLet’s take a look at some common mental health myths about youth suicide and set the record straight.

Attempted suicides are just a cry for attention.

A suicide attempt should never be dismissed as ‘just a cry for attention’. A young person is highlighting that their level of internal distress is unmanageable and unbearable. They need help, not judgement. A young person can feel even more isolated and misunderstood if those around them fail to take their actions seriously. Never ignore or minimise suicidal behaviours and seek professional help as soon as possible.

Teens who cut their wrists must be suicidal.

Cutting is a form of self-injury that can either be suicidal or non-suicidal. In both cases, the cutting is a sign that a young person is not managing their internal distress in a healthy way. Any young person who self-injures should undergo a full suicide risk assessment by a registered mental health professional.

If I ask a young person whether they are feeling suicidal, it might put the idea in their head.

This is a particularly dangerous myth as it discourages discussion of the issue at hand. Talking about suicidal feelings will not encourage a young person to commit suicide. When having the conversation try to stay calm and non-confrontational. Remain open and genuine, and remember the overall message – it is ok to talk about feelings, and there is help available. Show that you care and avoid judging the young person. If you are uncomfortable or unsure about having the conversation, get in touch with a mental health professional for some tips and guidance.

Written by Leeran Gold, Psychologist in our Forensic Service.

At Promises Healthcare, we are committed to helping you through your journey to recovery. Discover a new life, away from addiction and find renewed hope. If you or someone you know needs mental health support, please contact us today for inquiries and consultations.

For after-hours crisis support contact your local mental health service or emergency services.

In Singapore: IMH 24-hour helpline +65 6389 2222, Ambulance 995.

Hong Kong Murder Trial – Understanding ‘Diminished Responsibility’

Hong Kong Murder Trial – Understanding ‘Diminished Responsibility’

mental-health-court

As harrowing details of the British banker murder trial emerge, the media have shone a spotlight on his mental health and use of the ‘diminished responsibility’ defence. Here is a short introduction to the concept of ‘diminished responsibility’ and the role that forensic mental health experts may play in this trial written by Leeran Gold, Psychologist in our Forensic Service.

To read more:https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/hong-kong-murder-trial-understanding-diminished-leeran-gold?trk=hp-feed-article-title-publish

At Promises Healthcare, we are committed to helping you through your journey to recovery. Discover a new life, away from addiction and find renewed hope. Contact us to find out more.

Confidentiality, Consent and Landmark Litigation.

Confidentiality, Consent and Landmark Litigation.

Following a landmark case that ordered all privileged medico-legal reports to be struck off the record, the High Court of Singapore has set a new precedent in applying litigation privilege in criminal cases. Here are 3 key takeaways for forensic mental health professionals following the case written by Leeran Gold, Psychologist in our Forensic Service.

To read more:https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/confidentiality-consent-landmark-litigation-leeran-gold?trk=hp-feed-article-title-comment

At Promises Healthcare, we are committed to helping you through your journey to recovery. Discover a new life, away from addiction and find renewed hope. Please contact our clinic on for inquiries and consultations.

Tips on Protecting Children from Conflict and Terror in the Media

Tips on Protecting Children from Conflict and Terror in the Media

Promises Healthcare Singapore

Parents often worry about how to protect their children from violent media, and how to manage their child’s response once they are exposed. The fantastic article below outlines what parents need to look out for, and how they can help their child cope with the terror and violence they are seeing in the media.

https://psychlopaedia.org/top-tips/tips-protecting-children-conflict-terror/

Parents are encouraged to seek out professional help from a psychologist or counsellor if they feel that their child may be adversely affected.

Questions? Contact Promises Healthcare for a personalised consultation today.