Tackling the problem of self-harm among children in care

September 19, 2013 by Emma Thorne, University of Nottingham
Tackling the problem of self-harm among children in care

The problem of self-harm among young people in care is to be tackled as part of a new research project being led by The University of Nottingham.

The study will offer 11 to 18 year olds living in either homes or with foster carers and care leavers the chance to speak out about why they self-harm and will attempt to identify any common themes which led them to this behaviour.

The project will also aim to highlight services or support which is particularly successful in helping looked-after young people who self-harm in their recovery. The research results will be used in the future to inform the development of and .

Dr Ellen Townsend, in the University's School of Psychology, is leading the research. She said: "Self-harm is a serious sign of and is still relatively poorly understood by academics and clinicians. Significant NHS resources are required to deal with the assessment and management of self-harm.

"Each year approximately 200,000 episodes of self-harm are seen in general hospitals in England and Wales and many more hidden episodes occur in the community.

"This is very worrying because self-harm is the strongest predictor of eventual suicide and each suicide significantly affects many other individuals. Looked-after young people are at particularly high-risk of self-harmful behaviour yet there is sparse research targeting this group.

Voice of experience

"The study is called the Listen-up! project because we know that many young people who self-harm do not feel listened to. This is why our advisory group will be made up of young people who have experience of self-harm and being in care. We want to give voice to their experiences using robust psychological methods which can increase our understanding of self-harm and inform the development of suitable supports and services for this behaviour. We would like to invite young people interested in being on our to get in touch with me via email for more information about this."

The young people—and their carers—will be interviewed about their experiences of self-harming and will also take part in a series of computer-based interviews which will allow researchers to track their self-harm and trends in their behaviour and recovery over a longer period of time. The computer-based interviews allow who struggle with reading to take part as they will hear the questions via headphones and indicate their response with a mouse click. This method also enhances privacy and increases disclosure about sensitive topics like self-harm.

The project, which will run until 2016 has been funded by the Department of Health Policy Research Programme research initiative to support the implementation of the new Suicide Prevention Strategy for England.

Explore further: Self-harm not always a sign of serious mental health problems

Related Stories

Self-harm not always a sign of serious mental health problems

November 2, 2012
Knowledge is needed in order not to over-interpret the behaviour of the young people, according to psychologist Jonas Bjärehed, who has recently presented his thesis at Lund University in Sweden.

Suicide risk for older people who self-harm

May 2, 2012
Older people who self-harm are at much greater risk of suicide than both the general population and younger adults who self-harm, a new study has found. Researchers from The University of Manchester studied 1,177 people over ...

1 in 12 teenagers self-harm but most stop by their twenties

November 18, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Despite self-harm being one of the strongest predictors of completed suicide, 90% of young people who self-harm as adolescents cease self-harming once they reach young adulthood. However, those who start ...

Majority of self-harming adolescents don't receive a mental health assessment in ERs

January 30, 2012
A national study of Medicaid data shows most young people who present to emergency departments with deliberate self-harm are discharged to the community, without receiving an emergency mental health assessment. Even more, ...

Hospital screening tool for suicide risk among self-harmers should be ditched

July 29, 2013
A screening tool used in general hospitals to detect suicide risk among patients who have self harmed should be ditched, concludes a study published online in Emergency Medicine Journal.

Recommended for you

Babies' babbling betters brains, language

January 18, 2018
Babies are adept at getting what they need - including an education. New research shows that babies organize mothers' verbal responses, which promotes more effective language instruction, and infant babbling is the key.

College branding makes beer more salient to underage students

January 18, 2018
In recent years, major beer companies have tried to capitalize on the salience of students' university affiliations, unveiling marketing campaigns and products—such as "fan cans," store displays, and billboard ads—that ...

Inherited IQ can increase in early childhood

January 18, 2018
When it comes to intelligence, environment and education matter – more than we think.

Modulating molecules: Study shows oxytocin helps the brain to modulate social signals

January 17, 2018
Between sights, sounds, smells and other senses, the brain is flooded with stimuli on a moment-to-moment basis. How can it sort through the flood of information to decide what is important and what can be relegated to the ...

Baby brains help infants figure it out before they try it out

January 17, 2018
Babies often amaze their parents when they seemingly learn new skills overnight—how to walk, for example. But their brains were probably prepping for those tasks long before their first steps occurred, according to researchers.

Reducing sessions of trauma-focused psychotherapy does not affect effectiveness

January 17, 2018
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) patients treated with as few as five sessions of trauma-focused psychotherapy find it equally effective as receiving 12 sessions.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.