NSSI and Self-Harm Behavior and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Imke Baetens (Editor), Elizabeth Lloyd-Richardson (Editor), Janis Whitlock (Editor), Amy Brausch , Rebekah Clapham

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter reviews the effects of previous pandemics on mental health and self-harm, as well as the current research available about the effects of COVID-19 on nonsuicidal self-injury and suicide risk. Initial evidence on the effects of COVID-19 on deliberate self-harm behavior suggests that in general, individuals are experiencing a significant amount of collective stress and trauma, regardless of their views about or access to masks or vaccines. Some researchers have suggested that factors such as social distancing, less access to social supports, barriers to mental health treatments, fear of and experience with physical illness, and increased feelings of responsibility and guilt may be reducing general resilience of the population and increasing deliberate self-harm risk. However, it is also possible that the COVID-19 pandemic has created situations that serve as protective factors against deliberate self-harm. With opportunities to work from home, the closures of schools, and increased interaction with family members, individuals may be experiencing less work-related stress, more distance from negative or harmful peers, and an increased sense of family connection. The chapter then considers identity-related factors in the context of COVID-19 and self-harm. In addition to adolescents and the LGBTQ community potentially being disproportionally influenced by COVID-19, there have been reports of deliberate self-harm behaviors increasing among other minoritized individuals as well.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Nonsuicidal Self-Injury
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780197611302
ISBN (Print)9780197611272
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2023


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