Web is the Word. September 2012
Why you need to understand self-harm.
The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) reports that the rates of self-harm in the UK are the highest in Europe, at 4 in every 1000. Any age can self-harm, but the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) estimates that 1 out of 10 young people will self-harm at some point. It’s an increasing and alarming problem, which ISMA members are more and more likely to come across. So knowing something about self-harm it is a must.
Harming yourself by cutting your arms, scratching or burning your skin, banging your head, or in numerous other ways, is often a part of depression. But it can also happen to people who are not depressed, but instead are emotionally very distressed, or indeed, very stressed. Self-harm can provide a release or outlet to the emotional pain, or be the outcome of very low self-esteem or self-hatred, but it isn’t usually a suicide attempt. Princess Diana was a self-harmer during her marriage to Prince Charles, and celebrities such as Russell Brand and athlete Dame Kelly Holmes have also talked about their experiences of injuring themselves. Sometimes, harming yourself can be achieved in a less direct way, such as through binge drinking, taking drugs, unsafe sex, not eating enough, or by driving recklessly.
Coincidentally, just as I was finishing this article in early September, news came through that Victoria Pendleton, gold medal winning cyclist in the London 2012 Olympics, has revealed that she self-harms. She says she does this to cope with the pressures of competing, and mentions the loneliness and insecurities of being groomed to be a world champion as a young girl, as well as the fear of disappointing her father. She says she even cut herself after winning her gold medal in Beijing in 2008.
According to the RCP self-harm is most commonly found in:
- People in prison
- Young women
- People who were abused as children.
- Gay, lesbian and bisexual people ( probably due to the stress of discrimination)
- Armed force veterans
- People who feel isolated and alone
Self-harm seems to be caused by severe emotional distress, or intolerable stress which may be brought on by an unbearable situation, such as:
- relationship problems
- abuse of any kind
- financial problems.
Everyone’s experience of self-harm will be different – people hurt themselves for a variety of reasons, but mainly :
- To gain a release for their painful and distressing inner feelings and emotions.
- To block unwanted or painful memories or flashbacks
- To punish themselves as they feel guilt or worthlessness.
- For those who feel empty and emotionless, it’s a way to ‘feel something’.
Here are some very useful websites which have lots of helpful information about self-harm, how to recognise it, and what you can do if you know someone who is hurting themselves:
|Befrienders Worldwide||Provide emotional support and reduce suicide worldwide.www.befrienders.org|
|MIND(National Assn. for Mental Health)||www.mind.org.uk|
|Mental Health Foundation||www.mentalhealth.org.uk|
|The Royal College of Psychiatrists||www.rcpsych.ac.uk|
|National self- harm network||www.nshn.co.uk|
|Self-Harm and Young People: A National Enquiry Website||www.thesite.org/healthandwellbeing/mentalhealth/selfharm|
Web is the Word June 2012
Looking for a Publisher?
Getting your words out there has never been more important, whether it be your website, discussion group, blog, or Twitter. But you may also want to produce something more permanent, maybe a guide or a book, either in print or digitally. Many people and most businesses can find a use for a smartly printed up book. So, are you looking for a publisher?
Let’s start at the very beginning. Once upon a time, many aspiring writers were caught out by what was called ‘vanity publishing’. That is, publishers whose entire raison d’être appeared to be to ‘fleece’ naïve beginners. What they did was to play on your vanity by over praising the material you’ve sent to them for publication. Their ability to use hyperbole was absolutely astonishing. So you glow with pride, and think you’ve made it, you’ve hit the big time. You tell all your friends. Wonderful. But hey, there has to be a catch. Doesn’t there? You wonder how much they will pay you? But yes, you’ll be ahead of me. Of course, these kinds of publishers expect you to pay them! Hence the name coined many years ago – vanity publishers. Publishers who will pay you don’t need to advertise for authors!
But the world has moved on since then, and self-publishing has become both useful and reputable, as well as ethical and at reasonable cost. But, the vanity publishers are still there too, so be careful. John Clifford has been running a long-term campaign against this and offers a free advice pack. His site is www.vanitypublishing.info
Self- publishing and short-run publishing
This used to be very costly as printing methods were highly subject to economies of scale, most of the cost being incurred by the initial typesetting. But digital printing has changed all that, and books can now be printed one at a time as you want them/or sell them, or produced and downloaded digitally for those who prefer this. This cuts your initial outlay to a minimum, and makes it virtually risk free for writer and printer. Printing short runs, or bespoke books to order is commonplace, and there are many such publishers out there.
This is a developing and incredibly fast-moving field, which hasn’t settled down yet into clear choices or market leaders. Here is a link for an excellent American review article. It’s knowledgeable, detailed and very up to date, with lots and lots of good links. It’s also updated regularly. Well worth a read:
Here are some on-line publishers, some paper based, some e-books, some both. Though some are USA based, they can still be useful:
|Amazon’s Digital Text Platform
Digital books, also known as e-books or i-books, are already outselling hardback and paperback books combined on Amazon in the USA. A number of major players are emerging worldwide, selling e-readers and digital books, and they are currently jockeying for position. Who do you think is headed for becoming the next Nike, VHS, or Coca-Cola of the digital book world? Check out the following table for the current front runners, along with some useful information based and comparison sites.
Sellers of digital books
|Useful information/comparison sites|
What is an ISBN and do I need one?
To be ‘published’ whether self-funded or paid, you must have an ISBN number for your publication. An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a controlled, 10- or 13-digit identification number allowing publishers, libraries, and book dealers to locate books. You’ll have noticed these numbers and/or their barcode towards the back of books. It’s easy to get one. Just contact the Nielsen UK ISBN Agency www.isbn.neilsenbook.co.uk Your publisher will organise this for you, but if you self-publish, you will often be your own publisher, and for just over £100, you can be registered as such, and have numbers for your first ten publications.
Finding a publisher who will pay you!
Not everyone needs or wants to self-publish, and if you want to try the J K Rowling, Paul McKenna, or Dan Brown route and find a publisher who will pay you to write the book, and pay the publishing and digital production costs, you can ask a friend or colleague who is an author, or consult the Writers and Artists Year Book, the writers’ bible which lists them all, along with advice on copyright, lists of agents, and how best to approach them. You shouldn’t need to pay anyone to tell you which publisher to contact. There is a website linked to the AWYB, www.writersandartists.co.uk , and a full on-line version is in the pipeline (just like Stress news!).
Web is the Word March 2012
On-line confidentiality and identity protection
Whenever we are on-line, the whole world can know about it, and know which brand of toothpaste we’re ordering from Tesco, or the size of the shirt we’ve selected from Debenhams. Even if we don’t go for the trainers we pondered about in the Nike sale, the same shoes, or others like them will mysteriously and magically flash up at the top or side of our screen, the next time we’re checking e-mail, or looking at the weather forecast. And have you ever wondered why so many of the adverts which appear on your screen are things you’re actually quite interested in? Or why your e-mail address is already filled in when you log in to your favourite sites? I once clicked on a romantic fiction title,by mistake, on Amazon, and for months afterwards, I was bombarded with e-mails listing, ‘titles I might like’, mainly from the Mills and Boon genre. Even that enticing ‘free gift’ has a sting in its tail, as you find you have to register, or ‘open an account’ to claim the freebie, and provide all kinds of personal details, just for that great free toy for the dog.
This is the world of cookies, and marketing profiles and targeted selling. And just as a ‘mouse’ has no fur and doesn’t squeak, a cookie is not sweet and you can’t eat it. A cookie is a small data file lodged in your hard drive completely legally by an outside body so that it sets up their website just as you like it, next time you log on, and it can record your browsing preferences. Your computer can contain many of these, unless your internet security software is regularly picking them up and ‘devouring ‘ them. There are databases and organisations out there knowing more about you than you know about yourself.
Protection of identity, and confidentiality is therefore a live and very relevant issue on the net. This is particularly true if you are e-mailing clients discussing private matters, or conducting on-line therapy.
- Put a password on your computer, to prevent anyone passing by accessing your information.
- Use parental controls and other limiting software to prevent children giving away your family secrets.
- Only give information on-line which is absolutely essential.
- Unless it really matters, consider not giving your exact birth date – one near enough will do. It’s usually only being requested for marketing purposes, so sellers will tempt you to buy an Abba CD, rather than one by Adele or The Pet Shop Boys.
- Rather than giving your everyday personal e-mail address, set up a free e-mail address to use when you register with websites on-line.
- Read the site’s terms and conditions – yes, actually read them, don’t just click the ‘have read’ box, in your haste to get into the site. A quick skim will allow you to spot any problem areas.
If you spend any time on social networking sites, even a short ‘status update’ or message will immediately become available to your cyber friends, and possibly their friends, and so on. Many people have hundreds of friends or connections. Prospective clients or employers can also see what you were doing at the weekend. Similarly if you are a blogger, or just like to comment on what others have to say. Here are some ideas for using SNSs or blogging, commenting, or even just clicking on a ‘like’ or ‘share’ button:
- An often made suggestion is to imagine you’re talking to an audience of thousands of people you don’t know, the papers and TV, and the police service, before you write a single word, or ‘tweet’ about your latest news.
- Same applies for that cute or sentimental photograph you just couldn’t wait to share – imagine it on the front page of a tabloid next day (I’ve seen this happen), before you press ‘Enter’.
- Set your ‘privacy settings’ the way you want them, and exclude unwanted prying eyes.
Financial security – suggestions
- Keep account details safe and secure, and never give them out over the phone or internet unless you’re 100% sure who you’re dealing with. That’s 100% - not even 99.9% will do.
- Don’t use the same password and PIN for several sites. Preferably keep this information in your head, or use the same system to create these each time, or keep them very safe somewhere.
- Make use of any extra security systems the bank offers you, even if this is time-consuming.
I’ve only been able to give a few useful pointers here. And the truth is that it’s probably impossible to maintain 100% confidentiality, and identity protection on the net. Though that’s almost certainly just as true in the real world as it is in the virtual. But to protect yourself as much as is humanly possible, here are some sites with really good information and advice about the issues introduced here. For any of these sites, run a search from the home page using the key word you’re interested in, such as cookie, identity, or confidentiality.