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Self-Harm Support: A targeted community-based resilience intervention for young people who self-harm and live in a socioeconomically disadvantaged area

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Posterpeer-review

Publication date4/03/2022
<mark>Original language</mark>English
EventSociety for Research on Adolescence (SRA) 2022 Biennial Meeting - New Orleans, United States
Duration: 3/03/20225/03/2022


ConferenceSociety for Research on Adolescence (SRA) 2022 Biennial Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew Orleans


Self-Harm Support (SHS) is a targeted community-based intervention within Blackpool’s Resilience Revolution (RR). RR is a whole town approach to building resilience and addressing the mental health needs of young people (YP) in Blackpool (UK). The RR collaborates with individuals, organisations and services, using Resilient Therapy (Hart et al., 2007) to develop new ways of supporting YP’s mental wellbeing, with YP and adult supporters involved as co-leaders. The RR adopts a social justice-oriented understanding of resilience- ‘beating the odds whilst changing the odds’ (Hart et al., 2016): overcoming adversities, while challenging the underpinning structural inequalities. Blackpool is one of the most deprived towns in England, which makes life challenging for YP. Self-harm injuries and risks resulting in a hospital visit were significantly higher than the national average before the RR (Dempsey & Graham, 2019). To address this, Resilience Coaches (RCs) from the RR offered personalised short-term support (8-12 weeks) for YP aged 10-16 (N = 172, Apr 2017- Sep 2021), who were on waiting list for mental health services after presenting with self-harm or suicidal thoughts at the local hospital during out of office hours. SHS helps young people (and their families) to build resilience, look at safety planning, cycle of harm, coping strategies, and set and work on personal goals. Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ; Goodman, 2001) and Goal Based Outcomes (GBOS; Law & Jacob, 2015) were collected before and after intervention to inform practice, e.g. identifying areas of difficulties, and for monitoring improvement in mental health and progress towards goals. At the end of support, YP reported significant improvements in several SDQ domains, related to their mental health, and being significantly closer to reaching their goals (see Table 1 for paired t-test results). 82% of YP had not returned to hospital with self-harm injuries or risks. RCs’ reflective accounts (N = 9) were thematically analysed and revealed key referral reasons and triggers, e.g. bullying, breakdown in friendships, abuse, and observed improvements in safe behaviours, relationships and coping strategies. Overall, the findings show that SHS is a useful intervention to promote resilience, reduce self-harm and improve mental health of YP, which have implications for policies and services aiming at preventing or reducing self-harm in YP living in socioeconomically marginalised communities.