Self-harm is when somebody hurts their body as a way of coping with difficult feelings. Self-harm is becoming increasingly common in young people, particularly in teenage girls. The rise in self-harm has been linked to increasing use of social media and internet technology among young people. However, the evidence is limited to associations with poorer mental health rather than identifying aspects of using these technologies that can negatively impact on mental health.
Dr Rina Dutta is leading this study, funded by the Medical Research Council and Medical Research Foundation, to understand how use of social media and smartphones may increase the risk of self-harm in young people by studying changes in use in the time leading up to a self-harm episode. The information from this study will help us to understand if there are certain behaviours that are more likely to occur before a young person has an episode of self-harm. This could be used to inform new strategies to identify and ensure support is available to vulnerable young people. For example, by linking young people with crisis support or empowering young people to make changes, manage their own risks and build resilience.
This study will be engaging with young people who have accessed mental health services in South-East London. Young people will be invited to provide information to the study about their mental health and use of social media and a smartphone.
- MRC/MRF Research Grant Ref: MR/S020365/1
You can follow the study on Twitter @3s_yp and Instagram @3syp_kcl.