Self-Harm Not Always a Sign of Serious Mental Health Problems, Swed...

Self-harm is common among young people. Many have at one time scratched, punctured or cut themselves or hit their head forcefully against a wall, and the behaviour is almost as common among boys as girls. However, it may not be appropriate to compare young people who self-harm and adult psychiatric patients who self-harm.

Jonas Bjärehed and his supervisor Lars Gunnar Lund carried out a survey of 1 000 young people in southern Sweden which showed that four out of ten young people had at some time intentionally hurt themselves. The researchers have now broken down the data and it appears that only a small minority of the young people self-harm on a regular basis and in a way that can be compared with self-harm in adults with mental health problems.

"For many of these young people, the behaviour seems to be fairly mild and often of a temporary nature. It may be viewed as a matter of experimentation or problems that are not of a serious nature."

"Nowadays, we are grappling with the fact that many signs of stress and mental illness appear to be increasing in our society, especially among young people, without us really understanding why. The fact that many young people suffer mental health problems during a time in their lives when they are in the process of becoming adults and developing the skills they need to contribute to society has become a serious public health problem. An important challenge is to understand this trend and the signs of mental illness that we are seeing in young people, in order to be able to take the necessary measures to prevent it or provide help," says Jonas Bjärehed. [emphasis mine]

Tags: adolescents, self-harm

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Replies to This Discussion

Thanks for posting this Ruth.  It is very timely for me, as I just learned that one of my daughter's friends has been harming herself.  I just sent this on to her mother.

Thanks again.

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