Q&A: Billy Watson
The chief executive of the Scottish Association of Mental Health (SAMH) speaks about yesterday's report by the University of Stirling, which revealed that one in seven Scottish teenagers self-harms
Why are more and more teens self-harming?
The reasons for self-harming will differ for each young person. The research indicated that a number of factors are associated with self-harm, such as being bullied, worries about sexual orientation, family members self-harming and anxiety.
Why is there still a lack of awareness about self-harm?
Mental health problems are generally regarded as a taboo subject, although we are making significant steps to change that with awareness-raising campaigns. Another way to address this stigma and help those who self-harm is to ensure that young people are encouraged to discuss their mental health and wellbeing positively.
Why is the problem worse among girls than boys?
It may be that it's easier for girls to admit self-harming behaviour than boys, and it may be that boys self-harm in different ways from girls. But more research would be needed before we could be certain that this difference exists.
What can schools and parents do to help teens who are at risk?
Young people need to be taken seriously, listened to and supported. SAMH manages respectme, Scotland's Anti-Bullying Service. Respectme is focused upon the right of every young person not to be bullied and is informed by feedback from adults and young people who have experienced bullying. This feedback is used to help create practical advice and guidance on developing and reviewing anti-bullying policies.
What should the Scottish Government do to tackle the problem?
An integrated approach to encouraging young people to promote their own and others' mental health and wellbeing is needed. Part of this work must address self-harm directly to reduce the stigma surrounding it.
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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