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Caring for Young People Who Self-Harm: A Review of Perspectives from Families and Young People

Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, Parkville, VIC 3052, Australia
Centre for Youth Mental Health, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia
Department of Psychological Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, The University of Auckland, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(5), 950;
Received: 22 February 2018 / Revised: 24 April 2018 / Accepted: 3 May 2018 / Published: 10 May 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Suicide Research)
PDF [651 KB, uploaded 10 May 2018]


Self-harm among young people remains largely stigmatised and misunderstood. Parents have been identified as key facilitators in the help-seeking process, yet they typically report feeling ill-equipped to support the young person in their care. The aim of this review was to examine the perspectives of both young people (aged 12–28) and parents and to develop the conceptual framework for a future qualitative study. A systematic search of MEDLINE and PsycINFO was performed to identify articles that focused on the experiences of family members and young people related to managing the discovery of self-harm. Fourteen articles were included for review. Four addressed the perspectives of young people and 10 reported on the impact of adolescent self-harm on parents. The impact of self-harm is substantial and there exists a discrepancy between the most common parental responses and the preferences of young people. In addition, parents are often reluctant to seek help for themselves due to feelings of shame and guilt. This highlights the need for accessible resources that seek to alleviate parents’ distress, influence the strategies implemented to manage the young person’s self-harm behaviour, reduce self-blame of family members, and increase the likelihood of parental help seeking. View Full-Text
Keywords: young people; self-harm; families; parents; carers; support; resources young people; self-harm; families; parents; carers; support; resources

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Curtis, S.; Thorn, P.; McRoberts, A.; Hetrick, S.; Rice, S.; Robinson, J. Caring for Young People Who Self-Harm: A Review of Perspectives from Families and Young People. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 950.

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