Online discussion forums for young people who self-harm: User views
Jones R., Sharkey S., Ford T., Emmens T., Hewis E., Smithson J., Sheaves B., Owens C.
Aims and method: To explore what young people who self-harm think about online self-harm discussion forums. SharpTalk was set up to facilitate shared learning between health professionals and young people who self-harm.We extracted themes and illustrative statements from the online discussion and asked participants to rate statements. Results: Of 77 young people who participated in the forum, 47 completed the questionnaire. They said they learned more about mental health issues from online discussion forums than from information sites, found it easier to talk about self-harm to strangers than to family or friends, and preferred to talk online than face-to-face or on the telephone. They valued the anonymity the forums provided and reported feeling more able to disclose and less likely to be judged online than in 'real life'. Clinical implications: Mental health professionals should be aware of the value of anonymous online discussion forums for some young people who self-harm, so that they can talk about them and assess their use with their patients. Declaration of interest: None.