Non-suicidal self-injury in New Zealand secondary schools : an investigation of school staff attitudes, beliefs and knowledge of non-suicidal self-injury : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of MSc Psychology, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

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Non-Suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI) is a self-destructive, maladaptive behaviour with high prevalence rates among adolescents. In New Zealand, prevalence of NSSI has been identified at high rates among our adolescent populations, which is cause for concern. Increasingly, calls for advocacy and action in supporting adolescents have turned towards schools, as adolescents spend much of their time in education settings and school staff are primed in an optimal position to support students. But how equipped are school staff for this additional job, and how do they feel about students engaging in NSSI? This research aimed to investigate staff’s current attitudes, beliefs and knowledge of NSSI throughout New Zealand Secondary Schools. An online survey-based design was used, which included a mixture of multi-choice, Likert scale and open-ended questions. Participants were 458 Secondary School staff from throughout New Zealand. School staff roles included senior and middle management, guidance teams and school nurses, teaching staff and support staff. Findings provide evidence of a mixtures of attitudes and beliefs towards students engaging in NSSI and reasonable levels of staff knowledge of NSSI as behaviour and how to identify signs of NSSI among students. In total, 77% of participating Secondary School staff had encountered at least one student engaging in NSSI, with results identifying relative levels of self-disclosures to staff and teaching staff as being in a valuable position to notice physical and behavioural signs of NSSI behaviour amongst students. Training was identified to be associated with increases in positive attitudes and beliefs and increases in knowledge across varying professional school staff roles. It was associated with increased competence and confidence in engaging in conversations regarding NSSI with students, and more positive attitudes towards supporting students engaging in NSSI. Results identified low levels of NSSI staff training in New Zealand, and a consequential call for action from staff for training in this area. Just 10.9% of participants had received training in the area of NSSI, with upwards of 85% of staff in most staff categories identifying they would benefit from further training in NSSI.
Self-mutilation in adolescence, New Zealand, High schools, School employees, Attitudes, non-suicidal self-injury, adolescents, secondary school staff