Mental health attitudes, support preferences, and prevalence of self-harm among young people

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Tallon, Keeva
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MSc in Applied Psychology
Dublin Business School
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Background: Mental health problems and self-harm are most prevalent during adolescence and emerging adulthood. There is a lack of research investigating young people’s reasons for engaging in self-harm and support preferences they would seek. Objective: This study is intended to identify young people’s support preferences for mental health and self-harm, their willingness to seek help and the prevalence of self-harm Method: This study was a cross sectional in between subject’s design. In the current study eighty-nine participants mainly between 15-25 years old completed online anonymous questionnaires on self-esteem, willingness to seek help inventory, and modified version of deliberate self-harm. Participants also viewed a vignette depicting a target with depression. A total of 10 adolescents took part from 2 schools in the research. Snowball sampling was used to recruit individuals over the age of 18 to 25 years. Results: Majority of adolescents recognised the symptoms of depression from the vignette. 17% of respondents had engaged in self-harm. The most common reasons for self-harm were negative life events. Most common support preference was one to one therapy within mental health services. Low self-esteem predicted greater self-harm. High self-esteem predicted willingness to seek help. No gender differences on their willingness to seek support. Conclusion: Self-harm is widespread but can be often a hidden phenomenon in youth. A vast number of young people delay in seeking any mental health and/or self-harm support and help. Author keywords: Mental health, mental health attitudes, support preferences, self-harm, help-seeking, willingness to seek help, vignette, young people, adolescences, emerging adulthood