Open Access Open Badges Research article

Managing deliberate self-harm in young people: An evaluation of a training program developed for school welfare staff using a longitudinal research design

Jo Robinson*, Sara Gook, Hok Pan Yuen, Patrick D McGorry and Alison R Yung

Author Affiliations

Orygen Research Centre, Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, 35 Poplar Road, Parkville, 3052, Australia

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BMC Psychiatry 2008, 8:75  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-8-75

Published: 15 September 2008



Although deliberate self-harm is prevalent among young people, many who engage in deliberate self-harm receive sub-optimal care. Although schools are a well placed setting to support young people who engage in self-harm there are no specific training packages designed to assist school welfare staff to support these young people.

The current study aimed to design, deliver and evaluate a training course specifically for school staff.


The study employed a longitudinal design. Two hundred and thirteen people participated in the training and evaluation. A questionnaire was administered at baseline, immediately after the training and at 6-month follow-up in order to determine if the training led to improvements in confidence when working with young people who self-harm, perceived skill, knowledge of, and attitudes towards people who self harm.


Prior to the course, the majority of participants demonstrated relatively high levels of confidence, perceived skill and knowledge of self-harm and endorsed relatively positive attitudes towards people who engage in self-harm. Despite this, significant improvements were observed in terms of increased confidence, increased perceptions of skill along with increased knowledge of deliberate self-harm. These improvements were sustained over the follow-up period.


The results demonstrated that the provision of specifically designed training can help school welfare staff to feel better equipped to support young people who are engaging in deliberate self-harm.