'Reaching out': Exploring Interdisciplinary Approaches to Self-Harm and Sui...

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Michael Tippet Room

Staff House

University of Birmingham

Birmingham

B15 2TT

United Kingdom

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To mark World Suicide Prevention Day 2019, the Institute for Mental Health invites you to attend:

'Reaching out': Exploring Interdisciplinary Approaches to Self-Harm and Suicide Prevention in Young People

Date: Friday 13 September 2019

Time: 09:30-16:00

Venue: Michael Tippet Room, Staff House, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, B15 2TT


The programme will feature keynote talks from researchers in Suicide and Self-Harm, Dr Jo Robinson, Dr Maria Michail and Dr Anna Lavis. You will also hear the latest in interdisciplinary research at the University of Birmingham from our Early Career Researchers and current PhD students.


Keynote talks:

Professor Jo Robinson leads Orygen’s suite of research programmes around suicide prevention. She currently coordinates several research projects in collaboration with Australian and overseas universities. Jo’s work focuses on improving our knowledge about the best approaches to reduce suicide risk among young people. This includes developing programs, testing novel approaches that specifically target at-risk youth, and translating the research evidence into practice and policy. Jo has also been involved in the development of several government-commissioned community resources and has contributed to numerous advisory panels and expert committees.

‘Using Social Media to Prevent Youth Suicide: The #chatsafe Project.’

Social media has revolutionised the ways in which young people communicate and connect with others, and when it comes to communicating about suicide this presents both opportunities and challenges. As such, tools or resources are necessary to help equip young people to communicate about topics such as suicide safely using these platforms. The aims of this project were twofold: 1) To develop a set of evidence-informed guidelines to help young people communicate safely about suicide on social media; and 2) To implement the guidelines via a social media campaign co-designed with young people.

This is the first project, internationally, to develop and implement guidelines to foster safe and helpful suicide-related communication among young people on social media. While specifically developed for young people, the guidelines can also be used by people who support them, including: parents, teachers, community workers, and health professionals. The campaign content is now being tested in a large-scale study and the guidelines are about to be translated into up to ten different languages.


Dr Maria Michail is a Senior Birmingham Fellow in the Institute for Mental Health at the University of Birmingham. Dr Michail leads an established research programme on youth suicide prevention. She has significant experience working in primary care settings and collaborates closely with the UK Royal College of General Practitioners to develop and evaluate educational resources support GPs in the assessment and management of suicidality in primary care.

‘Youth Suicide Prevention and the Role of Primary Care.’

National and international policies have acknowledged primary care as an important setting for the assessment and management of young people at-risk of suicide. Whilst GPs have an important role to play in youth suicide prevention, the complexities of delivering suicide prevention in general practice are not always acknowledged. This talk will highlight challenges and opportunities for optimising the role of GPs in effectively managing and supporting at-risk young people in primary care. We will present a range of cutting-edge resources developed at the Institute for Mental Health for use in primary care to support the early identification, assessment and mitigation of suicide risk. This presentation will highlight the need for meaningful partnership between researchers, clinicians and young people to ensure feasibility, acceptability and capacity to meet young people’s needs in primary care.


Dr Anna Lavis is a Lecturer in Medical Sociology and Qualitative Methods and a member of the Institute for Mental Health. Her work explores individuals’ and informal caregivers’ experiences and subjectivities of mental illness and distress across a range of social and cultural contexts, both offline and on social media.Her research to date has particularly focused on eating disorders, psychosis and self-harm, with theoretical emphases on gender, bodies and embodiment, concepts and ethics of care, and the intersections of mental health and material culture.

‘Self-harm and social media: Exploring young people’s engagements with self-harm content online.’

Self-harm discussions and images on social media have been a recent focus of concern across academia, policy and the media. Cross-sectoral calls for online technology providers to enhance safeguarding have particularly emphasised the danger of self-harm content; this has been framed as causing, encouraging or glorifying acts such as self-cutting and burning. Drawing on a Wellcome Trust-funded ethnographic study of self-harm discussions and imagery on Reddit, Twitter and Instagram (2018-2019), this presentation will offer a counter perspective.

That our participants described turning to social media for understanding of their existing self-harm suggests the need to question assumptions regarding motivations for engaging with such content, and its offline impact. In turn, a narrow societal focus on the ‘dangers’ of self-harm imagery risks disregarding more pernicious ways that social media may have detrimental effects on young people’s wellbeing. Whilst the necessity of supporting young people’s safety and digital literacy is clear, it is also key to recognise the multi-directionality of relationships between a young person’s engagement with seemingly ‘graphic’ online imagery, and their mental health and support needs. Online self-harm content must be considered in context, with young people’s own perspectives placed at the heart of discussions.

About the Institute for Mental Health

The IMH has been established to maximise the collaborative efforts of academics at the University of Birmingham, and builds on the strong existing partnerships with practice in the NHS, established through Birmingham Health Partners, Forward Thinking Birmingham, and Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust. Through interdisciplinary research the IMH works to improve the outcomes and care for young people with mental health problems. We will do this by working together to understand the causes of poor mental health, prevent mental health problems from developing, and respond to established illness by developing new treatments and services.


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Location

Michael Tippet Room

Staff House

University of Birmingham

Birmingham

B15 2TT

United Kingdom

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