Self-Harm in Secondary Schools: What are the Perceptions and Experiences of Staff ?

Prof Doc Thesis

Walshe, Jody 2016. Self-Harm in Secondary Schools: What are the Perceptions and Experiences of Staff ? Prof Doc Thesis University of East London Psychology
AuthorsWalshe, Jody
TypeProf Doc Thesis

The purpose of this study is to explore the perceptions and experiences of secondary school staff with regard to adolescent self-harm. The research was conducted in a Local Authority where there were particular concerns about rising numbers of young people presenting with self-harm.
While the majority of young people who self-harm are supported in the community and never access clinical services, surprisingly little research has considered the role of schools and their staff. The research that has been done suggests that school staff can feel underqualified and overwhelmed in their attempts to support young people who self-harm. Further, there is a growing evidence base that when young people experience negative attitudes towards self-harm it is distressing and reduces the chance of them seeking further help.
To address this, qualitative exploratory research was conducted with thirteen members of staff working in secondary schools. Since the research was concerned not just with experiences, but also with perceptions of adolescent self-harm, the participants were from two groups: those with direct experience of supporting young people who have self-harmed and those without any direct experience. Data collection involved individual semi-structured interviews which were analysed using thematic analysis.
The research indicated that secondary school staff are keen to help and understand young people who self-harm, but that they do not always feel skilled or confident enough to do so, often feeling that some kind of specialist is required and/or fearing that they might make a situation worse. Findings highlighted the emotional impact of this work and illustrated the importance of supporting staff, who expressed a desire for further training and other forms of professional support such as supervision.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
PrintApr 2016
Publication process dates
Deposited13 Sep 2016
Publisher's version
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