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I Just Pulled Myself Together and Realised I had to be Responsible: Adolescents’ Experiences of Having a Friend Who Self-Harms

Hall, Sarah and MELIA, Yvonne (2022) I Just Pulled Myself Together and Realised I had to be Responsible: Adolescents’ Experiences of Having a Friend Who Self-Harms. Child & Youth Care Forum, 51. pp. 291-311. ISSN 1053-1890

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Background Self-harm usually begins during adolescence and adolescents that self-harm most commonly confide in friends, yet to date, there is little research from the friend’s perspective.Objective This qualitative study explores adolescents’ experiences of what it is like to have a friend who self-harms by cutting and what this experience means for friendship, the wider peer group and psychological well-being.Methods Semi-structured interviews were conducted face-to-face with a community sample of eight females aged between 13 and 18 years, living in England. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to analyse the data.ResultsFour superordinate themes emerged: desperately searching for meaning, I will be there at all costs, too hot to handle and identification. Adolescents were concerned about escalations in their friends’ behaviours and felt a sense of duty to help, but the majority experienced a dilemma as to whether to disclose to others and all reported some form of distress.Conclusions The results highlight the important, yet complex nature of friendship in this context. Friends play a key role in supporting adolescents who self-harm but need greater support managing this role and the effects. Schools/colleges should educate young people about self-harm to increase their knowledge and skills in relation to supporting a friend with this issue. Furthermore, they should promote environments for talking about mental health openly to give young people increased opportunities for help-seeking.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Self-harm; Adolescence; Friendship; Peers; Qualitative; Cutting
Faculty: School of Life Sciences and Education > Psychology and Counselling
Depositing User: Yvonne MELIA
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2024 14:01
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2024 14:04

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