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Equipping Parents to Support Youth Who Self-Injure: A Multi-Method Approach to Understanding the Needs of Parents

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Title: Equipping Parents to Support Youth Who Self-Injure: A Multi-Method Approach to Understanding the Needs of Parents
Author: Arbuthnott, Alexis Elizabeth Irene
Department: Department of Psychology
Program: Psychology
Advisor: Lewis, Stephen P.
Abstract: Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is a common mental health concern among youth, and parents can be valuable supports for these youth through the recovery process. However, youth NSSI can have a significant impact on parents’ wellbeing, which may in turn alter parents’ ability to support the youth. This dissertation focuses on understanding the needs of parents of youth who self-injure. First, a systematic literature review synthesized the literature on parent factors implicated in youth NSSI risk, the role of parents in help-seeking and intervention for youth NSSI, and the impact of youth NSSI on parents. Next, a second study presented a model linking adolescent mental health challenges to parent wellbeing through parenting self-efficacy within a sample of parents (n = 112) of youth with a history of NSSI. Results indicated that parenting self-efficacy partially mediated the relation between young people’s mental health challenges and parent wellbeing (i.e., symptoms of depression, anxiety, perceived stress, and life satisfaction). Furthermore, parent emotion dysregulation mediated the relation between NSSI literacy and parenting self-efficacy, as well as the relation between social support and parenting self-efficacy. A second phase of this study then used thematic analyses to identify salient themes regarding the impact of youth’s self-injury on parents (i.e., elicitation of difficult emotions, exacerbation of mental health difficulties, uncertainty as a parent, recognition of growth), parents’ needs as they support their youth (i.e., need for NSSI literacy, need for peer support, need for effective professional support, need for self-care), and the ways in which parents anticipate the Internet could meet their needs (i.e., information and self-help tools, connection with peers, readily-available mental health professionals). Sources from which parents seek help (i.e., both informal and professional supports, including the Internet), the barriers to seeking help (i.e., inability to access effective mental health resources, parent negative expectations, youth’s resistance to receiving help), and what makes these sources helpful (i.e., validation and connection, competent family-centered professional support, caring for the parent as separate from the youth) was also assessed. Clinical implications and implications for the role of the Internet in equipping parents to support youth who self-injure are discussed.
Date: 2018-08-24
Rights: Attribution 2.5 Canada
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Attribution 2.5 Canada Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Attribution 2.5 Canada