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Attributions About Self-Harm: A Comparison Between Young People’s Self-Report and the Functions Ascribed by Preservice Teachers and School Counsellors

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 December 2021

Kristy Dawson*
Affiliation:
School of Psychology, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia Illawarra Institute for Mental Health, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
Frank P. Deane
Affiliation:
School of Psychology, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia Illawarra Institute for Mental Health, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
Leonie Miller
Affiliation:
School of Psychology, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia Institute for Innovation in Business and Social Research, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
*
*Address for correspondence: Kristy Dawson, Building 22, School of Psychology, University of WollongongNSW2522, Australia. Email: kmd877@uowmail.edu.au

Abstract

Globally, adolescent self-harm rates remain high, while help-seeking behaviour remains low. School staff are in a position to facilitate access to appropriate care for young people who self-harm (YPS-H), but little is known about gatekeepers’ attributions of self-harm or whether these attributions influence the support they provide. This study investigates the perceived functions of self-harm reported by potential gatekeepers and examines how these compare to the self-reported functions of self-harm in young people; 386 students from postgraduate teaching (n = 111), school counselling (n = 37), and undergraduate psychology (n = 238) programs completed a survey regarding their beliefs about YPS-H, which included the Inventory of Statements about Self-Harm. Responses were compared to those of 281 young people attending treatment at a suicide prevention program who completed the same measure. Preservice teachers, school counsellors and psychology students endorsed all functions of self-harm at a higher rate than treatment-seeking young people themselves. In particular, they endorsed interpersonal functions to a greater extent than the clinical reference group. The potential effect of greater endorsement of interpersonal influence as a function of self-harm gatekeeper’s responding to YPS-H is discussed.

Type
Articles
Copyright
© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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