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Health Soc Care Community. 2012 Sep;20(5):506-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2524.2012.01061.x. Epub 2012 Mar 23.

Youth Justice staff attitudes towards screening for self-harm.

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1
School of Psychology, University of Nottingham, UK. sarah.knowles@manchester.ac.uk

Abstract

Young offenders are recognised as a high-risk group for suicidal behaviour. It is essential that the screening used to identify those at risk and refer them to mental health services is effective, especially in community settings where service utilisation is low. Staff attitudes towards screening for suicide and self-harm are likely to influence how a young offender engages with the screening process. Our study is the first to explore community youth justice staff attitudes towards, and perceptions of, screening for self-harmful behaviour. Eight semi-structured interviews were conducted at an English Youth Offending Team in June 2006 with staff who had used the suicide screening tool with young offenders. Data were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Staff attitudes towards working within the screening system varied along two dimensions. The first 'active/passive' dimension related to perceived confidence in dealing with self-harm. The second 'positive/negative' dimension related to perceptions of the benefits of screening and the effectiveness of mental health provision for young offenders. Results indicate that barriers to effective screening must be tackled at both individual and organisational levels. The model of attitudes presented here could be used to increase understanding of how staff can be supported to engage effectively with the screening system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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