Our research is intended to deepen understanding of self-injurious behavior. We hope, however, that our findings will also shed light on the contextual and developmental conditions which affect adolescent mental health trajectories and outcomes. Some of the questions which guide our research include:
Survey & Study of College Mental Health and Well-Being
Data collected from a random sample of four American universities using the Survey of College Mental Health and Well Being in 2005-2006 has and will be used to assess a variety of mental health and well being indicators useful in understanding student mental health and help-seeking behaviors with a special focus on self-injurious behaviors. It has already been administered in two universities. The web-based format of the survey readily accommodates complicated skip patterns and is an efficient means of delivery for computer-savvy populations, such as students. The survey requires anywhere from 10-25 minutes to complete. The survey will be used as part of a longitudinal study aimed at understanding the relationship between mental health, young adult development, and context. It is also being used as part of an intervention study for reducing suicide and related poor mental health conditions, including self-injury.
Mental Health Provider Practices in Detecting and Treating Self-Injurious Behavior
This study is aimed at understanding provider experiences in detecting and treating self-injurious behavior. A national sample of college mental health providers, secondary school social workers, nurses, and psychologists are and will be surveyed to assess their perceptions of self-injurious behavior as well as detection and treatment approaches.
Media Influences on Self-Injurious Behavior
Internet and popular media serve as potent sources of social modeling and may be one way in which individuals learn about self-injury and find others who share their practices. This project component consists of two independent studies. One of these is aimed at assessing the role of the Internet in bringing those who self-injure together and in disseminating information about self-injurious behavior. The other study focuses on the way self-injury is expressed in popular media, such as movies and music.
The Self-Injury Story: Culture, Narrative, & Development
Human beings construct their lives in the form of stories. Personal stories, in turn, reflect both cultural and developmental elements. This ethnographic study will use case studies to understand how the personal narratives of those who engage in self-injurious behavior differ from those who do not.