Help-seeking behavior among Japanese school students who self-harm: results from a self-report survey of 18,104 adolescents

Watanabe, Norio; Nishida, Atsushi; Shimodera, Shinji; Inoue, Ken; Oshima, Norihito; Sasaki, Tsukasa; Inoue, Shimpei; Akechi, Tatsuo; Furukawa, Toshi A.; Okazaki, Yuji
December 2012
Neuropsychiatric Disease & Treatment;2012 Part 2, Vol. 8, p561
Academic Journal
Background: The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of and factors associated with poor help-seeking among adolescents who self-harm and to explore the resources used for help. Methods: A cross-sectional survey using an anonymous questionnaire was conducted in 47 junior and 30 senior high schools in Japan. Adolescent self-harm was defined as an adolescent who had harmed himself or herself in the previous year, as in previous studies reported in Western countries. Poor help-seeking was defined as not consulting anyone despite reporting current psychological or somatic complaints. Information about sociodemographic and psychological factors possibly associated with help-seeking, such as suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, and psychotic-like experiences, was also collected. Regression analyses were performed to examine associated factors. Results: A total of 18,104 students (8620 aged 12-15 years, 9484 aged 15-18 years), accounting for 93% of all students in the relevant student classes, participated in the study. Two hundred and seventy-six (3.3%) junior and 396 (4.3%) senior high school students reported having self-harmed. Of these, 40.6% of adolescents in junior and 37.6% in senior high schools were classified as poor help-seeking. Poor help-seeking with regard to self-harm was significantly more common in those who reported not having consulted anyone about psychological problems (odds ratio 9.2, 95% confidence interval 4.6-18.4 in juniors; odds ratio 9.9, confidence interval 5.5-17.9 in seniors) and in those with current suicidal ideation (odds ratio 2.0, confidence interval 1.0-3.7 in juniors; odds ratio 1.9, confidence interval 1.1-3.4 in seniors). Family members were approached significantly less often as a resource for help by students who self-harmed than by those who did not, and school nurses were more often consulted by those who did self-harm. Conclusion: Around 40% of adolescents who self-harmed in the previous year did not seek help. School-based mental health should screen students at risk of self-harm, and educate school nurses about preventative care.


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