Can mainstream health services provide meaningful care for people who self-harm? A critical reflection

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Abstract

People who self-harm currently access health care based in a wide variety of settings. These include primary care, accident and emergency departments, and specialist mental health providers. This paper considers whether meaningful care for people who self-harm can be provided within these mainstream health services. The paper begins by clarifying the meaning of self-harm and distinguishes self-harm from suicide. Four treatment models applied in clinical practice are identified: (i) psychodynamic, (ii) behavioural, (iii) biosocial and (iv) feminist. Each of these is critically considered in terms of practical utility, professional attitudes and wider organizational/policy context.

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