Young people, self-harm and help-seeking

PhD Thesis

Isbister, C. 2013. Young people, self-harm and help-seeking. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology
AuthorsIsbister, C.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDClinPsychol

Given the high rates of completed suicide and poor help-seeking among young men, this research explored how young men, who had successfully sought help from a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), experienced help-seeking. This study focused on the factors that facilitated initial access and on-going engagement in services.
Eight young men between the ages of 16-18, who had entered CAMHS following self-harm or suicidal ideation, and who were engaged in on-going therapy, were recruited. Each young man was interviewed to elicit his personal experiences of help-seeking and help-receiving. Interviews were transcribed and subjected to Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.
Five dominant themes, that overarched participant’s individual experiences, emerged from the data: Role of external adult in recognising, normalising and initiating help seeking; Influence of another;Challenging and renegotiating perception of need for help and meaning behind this need; Change in perspective; Maintaining an independent self; Mechanisms of engagement and Shared experience. Help-seeking was described as a journey of two stages; 1) initial access and 2) on-going engagement, during which the presence and timing of external influences (parents, teachers) and internal influences (personal beliefs and attitudes) were crucial. A model of help-seeking is presented.
This study is the first of its kind to consider factors that facilitate the help-seeking journey of young men aged 16-18 following self-harm. It highlights the need for provision of information to parents and teachers about how to identify need and ways to facilitate access to services. Information and guidelines on how to adapt services to meet the complex developmental needs of young men, is highlighted for service developers, commissioners and clinicians.

Publication process dates
Deposited18 Dec 2013
Output statusUnpublished
Accepted author manuscript
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