Does mental wellbeing protect against self-harm thoughts and behaviours during adolescence? A six-month prospective investigation

Kirsten Russell, Susan Rasmussen*, Simon C. Hunter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Mental wellbeing protects against the emergence of suicidal thoughts. However, it is not clear whether these findings extend to self-harm thoughts and behaviours irrespective of intent during adolescence, or why this relationship exists. The current study aimed to test predictions, informed by the Integrated Motivational Volitional (IMV) model of suicide concerning the role of perceived defeat and entrapment within the link between mental wellbeing and self-harm risk. Young people (n=573) from secondary schools across Scotland completed an anonymous self-report survey at two time points, six months apart, which assessed mental wellbeing, self-harm thoughts and behaviours, depressive symptomology and feelings of defeat and entrapment. Mental wellbeing was associated with reduced defeat and entrapment (internal and external) and a decrease in the likelihood a young person would engage in self-harm thoughts and behaviours. The relationship between mental wellbeing and thoughts of self-harm was mediated by a reduction in perceptions of defeat and entrapment (internal and external). Mental wellbeing was indirectly related to self-harm behaviours via decreased feelings of defeat and internal (but not external) entrapment. Taken together, these findings provide novel insights into the psychological processes linking mental wellbeing and self-harm risk and highlight the importance of incorporating the promotion of mental wellbeing within future prevention and early intervention efforts.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6771
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume17
Issue number18
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sep 2020

Keywords

  • self-harm
  • adolescence
  • defeat
  • entrapment
  • IMV
  • mental well-being

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