Editorial: New insights into self-harm among children and young people – renewed links with inequality, new opportunities for recognition and new treatment option
Supporting children and young people (CYP) who self-harm (SH) is an important work of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). This theme is reflected in three papers in this issue. Starting with risk factors, Marraccini and colleagues found that compared with adolescents, preadolescent children with suicidal behavior were more likely to be male, from a Black ethnic background, or to have a neurodevelopmental disorder such as autism spectrum condition (ASC) or ADHD. These authors’ finding of increased school-related stressors emphasizes the importance of educational adjustments in reducing the risk of SH among CYP with ASC and ADHD. Ward and Curran’s study suggests that screening for ADHD symptoms among CYP who present with SH may improve early identification of those affected by ADHD—especially among females. Finally, Ramsey and colleagues found that coupling dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) with a specific intervention targeting self-criticism reduced episodes of SH more than standard DBT alone. Given the link between SH and suicide, improving understanding of the risk factors, early identification, and new treatment options for SH remain important.
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Dr. Cornelius Ani is an Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer at the Division of Psychiatry, Imperial College London, and a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the African Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health. Dr Ani is responsible for the Letters to the Editor section and he contributes editorial expertise in the area of Low and Middle Income Countries, inequalities, and physical health.
Dr. Ani’s academic interests include the development of psychosocial mental health interventions in Low and Middle Income Countries, interface between physical and mental health, and medical education. Dr. Ani played a key role in setting up the first postgraduate training programme in Child and Adolescent Mental Health in West Africa and continues to actively support the growth of the programme. He has over 60 publications including peer reviewed papers and book chapters. He has given numerous invited lectures including plenaries at several international conferences.