Master of Arts
Stewart, Shannon L.
Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) includes injury to the body without the intention of causing death, such as burning and self-cutting. Few studies have assessed how the pandemic has impacted clinically referred children and youth, especially younger children due to NSSI onset typically occurring around 13-15 years of age. To address this gap in the literature, the present study used data from 3,042 clinically referred children and youth ages 8 to 18 who completed the interRAI ChYMH assessment. A cross-sectional design was used to assess NSSI and associated factors during the first two waves of the pandemic. The study found no significant change in the prevalence of NSSI during the first two waves of the pandemic. Similarly, associated factors did not significantly change; however, findings revealed a decrease in school disengagement in Wave Two compared to the equivalent period one year prior and Wave One. Implications for mental health practitioners are discussed.
Summary for Lay Audience
Non-suicidal self-injury is an injury to the body where the individual does not intend to cause death, such as burning, biting, and self-cutting. Often, non-suicidal self-injury is used as an unhelpful strategy to emotionally regulate. Many risk factors are associated with non-suicidal self-injury, such as low socioeconomic status, depression, anxiety, trauma, substance use, distraction and hyperactivity, aggressive behaviour and school disengagement. Also, there are protective factors that reduce the likelihood of engaging in non-suicidal self-injury, such as strong family and peer relationships. During the pandemic, many stressors increased, which caused concern for an increase in non-suicidal self-injury. Few studies have assessed how the pandemic has impacted children and youth seeking mental health services, particularly younger children, due to the onset of non-suicidal self-injury occurring at younger ages. To address this gap in the literature, the current study examined the prevalence of non-suicidal self-injury and associated factors during the first two waves of the pandemic. The study's results found no significant change in the prevalence of non-suicidal self-injury during the first two waves of the pandemic. Likewise, associated factors did not significantly change during the pandemic. There was a significant decrease in school disengagement in Wave Two compared to the equivalent period one year prior and wave one of the pandemic. These results have practical implications for mental health practitioners, particularly ways to increase access to care and safety, as many risk factors associated with non-suicidal self-injury were likely not captured during the pandemic due to children and youth not having contact with mandated reporters or privacy to disclose to trusted adults.
Thomas, Sarah, "Non-Suicidal Self-Injury: Examining Factors Across COVID-19 Wave One and Wave Two Among Clinically Referred Children and Youth" (2023). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 9631.
Available for download on Friday, February 28, 2025