Motivations for adolescent self-harm and the implications for mental health nurses

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid

Abstract

Accessible summary

What is known on the subject?

What does this paper add to existing knowledge?

What are the implications for practice?

Introduction:

Although self-harm is a relatively common occurrence in adolescents, there is a lack of understanding about the motivations behind it. A poor understanding of self-harm contributes to negative perceptions about those who self-harm and a poor healthcare experience.

Aim & Methods:

This study identifies motivations behind self-harm in school-based adolescents using a cross-sectional survey. Motivations behind self-harm were elicited using a scale and open-ended responses.

Results:

Of the 856 adolescents who completed the survey across 11 postprimary schools, 103 reported a history of self-harm. The most commonly endorsed reason for self-harm was to ‘get relief from a terrible state of mind’ (79%). Open-ended responses were consistent with scale responses with most reporting that they self-harmed to relieve distressing emotions.

Discussion:

Findings provide support for the affect-regulation model of self-harm with support also demonstrated for the self-punishment and antidissociation models. There was little support for the interpersonal influence model suggesting that the commonly held belief that self-harm is attention-seeking is one attributed by others to young people, and not widely reported by young people themselves.

Implications for practice:

Mental health services need to be responsive to the needs of young people who self-harm which requires eliciting and understanding the individual and multiple meanings behind self-harm to best inform treatment options.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles