Mental Health

Embracing our Scars: Self-Harm 101

Bree Wiles

University of Southern California

Workshop Session #2

10:55AM - 12:00PM -

Session Overview

Self-harm is a topic that is not talked about enough, especially with the growing concern for the safety of LGBTQ youth in today’s society. LGBTQ youth are coming out at earlier ages, thus bringing to attention the added risks for this population. Many LGBTQ youth end up engaging in some form of self-destructive behavior from dealing with the stigma and negative socialization around them. Within the LGBTQ youth population, self-harm alongside depression and suicidality is especially common, with an alarming 40% being suicidal. This disparity shows the importance of providing LGBTQ youth with resources that affirm their identities and presentations. As professionals, it is important to know and understand the types of self-harm, average age range when it happens, populations, risk factors, self-harm in connection with depression and being suicidal, and some common causes of self-harm, all which this workshop will provide. It is also important to provide protective factors for LGBTQ youth in helping to replace self-harming behaviors with positive behaviors/coping strategies. In the workshop, there will be a brief activity focusing on creating an on the go coping skills list to use for youth who are going through a difficult time. The idea of "printing one's scars" will be introduced as an empowering intervention for those who have self-harmed in the past. The workshop will be interactive with multiple short activities and will also entail an informative presentation to educate professionals on the basics of self-harm.


Breana Wiles is a Master of Social Work Student at the University of Southern California, with a specialization in Children, Youth, and Families. She will be graduating in May of 2019 and has chosen to focus most of her work on the LGBTQ youth population. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a minor in LBGTQ Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2015. Her career interest and passion include working with the LBGTQ community in mental health. She has worked with LGBTQ youth in multiple positions including at Pacific Pride Foundation where she co-facilitated an LGBTQ youth group, ran a LGBTQ youth Anti-Bullying Summit, and helped within the local high school's GSA. She just finished her first year of her graduate program where she interned at D'Veal Family and Youth Services and helped to create the LGBTQ program within the agency. She has provided multiple LGBTQ identity trainings to administration in the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Children and Family Services, probation, and Pasadena Unified School District. She recently began presenting to other MSW students and faculty on her own journey as an LGBTQ identified woman who struggled with mental health including depression and self-harm during high school. Currently, she will be starting her 2ndyear internship at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, in the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine - Center for Transyouth Health and Development. She has a wealth of knowledge on the LGBTQ community from both personal and professional experience, including many aspects of mental health. She looks forward to continuing to expand her knowledge on the LGBTQ population and earning her LCSW in the future.