Functions of Non-Suicidal Self-Injury in Prisoners with Mental Health Diagnoses
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Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) presents a serious concern for prisons, being particularly prevalent in prisoners with mental health difficulties. This study gained accounts of the functions of self-harm in a sample of adult, male prisoners with mental health difficulties and understand what they believe would help them reduce or stop their NSSI. Six semi-structured interviews were carried out and thematic analysis conducted. Four main themes were identified: Affect regulation, affective change following NSSI and mediators of NSSI. All participants cited affect regulation as the function of their NSSI and discussed the impact of the prison environment on the behaviour. Results highlight the importance of interventions targeting emotion identification, regulation and expression and coping skills within prison environments. This study was limited by it's small sample size, however, findings indicate this would be a valid area for further research to gain greater understanding of NSSI within the prison population, providing the opportunity to consolidate themes. This research focussed on the function of NSSI for prisoners as opposed to the nature, prevalence and context of these incidents, which research has traditionally focussed on. This is an important due to increasing rates of NSSI within the prison system in the context of resource pressures.
Mental Health Practice;
Evans-Johns, H, Davies, B, Sellen, J, Mercer, J. (2018) 'Functions of Non-Suicidal Self-Injury in Prisoners with Mental Health Diagnoses, Mental Health Practice, 21(7)
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