Self-Injury Awareness Day at Brookhaven Retreat

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Brookhaven Retreat, a unique residential treatment facility exclusively for women, acknowledges March 1 as Self-Injury Awareness Day.

Self-Injury Awareness Day (SIAD) is an annual global awareness campaign meant to promote openness and break down the common stereotypes. Also referred to as self-harm, self-injury encompasses a wide range of non-suicidal behaviors and physical acts of harm on your own body to relieve emotional distress.

Self-harm may be inflicted as a way to create “real” feelings and divert attention from emotional issues that seem more difficult to tackle. Sadly, self-injury does not address underlying issues and can become a habitual response to daily stress and eventually escalate in severity.

Owner Jacqueline Dawes says, “At Brookhaven Retreat we consider self-harm a physical response to an emotional discomfort, pain or anguish. We believe it’s most beneficial to focus on the emotion that is driving the pain rather than the behaviors, which are shrouded in stigma and myth, to avoid losing sight of where the real help is needed.”

Dawes points to the work of Dr. Marsha Linehan, who at 17 was hospitalized for more than two years for mental illness, and in 2011 shared her story as one affected by Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), and more specifically, self-injury. Much later in life, Linehan founded The Linehan Institute of Behavioral Technology and developed Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), recognized by the Cochrane Review as the treatment of choice for characteristics associated with BPD including self-harm, impulsivity and suicidal tendencies, among others.

According to the official website of The Linehan Institute, “These same characteristics distinguish the clients labeled as most ‘difficult to treat’ in our mental health system.”

More specifically, DBT combines the technology of change based on behavioral science, “technology of acceptance,” derived from both eastern and western practices, such as mindfulness, willingness and radical acceptance.

Self-Injury Awareness is often observed by the public with orange ribbons and orange SIAD bracelets.

About Brookhaven Retreat
Brookhaven Retreat is a women's treatment center nestled on a naturally beautiful 48-acre site secluded in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. It has helped hundreds of women across the United States overcome depression, trauma, anxiety, substance use and a range of other behavioral health challenges. Brookhaven’s Founder, Jacqueline Dawes, has predicated its gender-specific treatment on “healing emotional breakage” for women. In this way, she has established a sanctuary and a place where women can feel safe, secure and cared for by a staff of highly trained professionals.

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Jessica Wirth
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