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Self-harm in young people is a serious international health concern that impacts on those providing informal support: the supporting individuals of young people. We aimed to highlight the experiences, views, and needs of these supporting individuals of young people. We conducted a systematic review and thematic synthesis: PROSPERO CRD42020168527. MEDLINE, PsycINFO, EMBASE, AMED, CINAHL, ASSIA, and Web of Science were searched from inception to 6 May 2020 with citation tracking of eligible studies done on 1 Oct 2021. Primary outcomes were experiences, perspectives, and needs of parents, carers, or other family members of young people aged 12–25. Searches found 6167 citations, of which 22 papers were included in synthesis. Supporting individuals seek an explanation for and were personally affected by self-harm in young people. It is important that these individuals are themselves supported, especially as they negotiate new identities when handling self-harm in young people, as they attempt to offer support. The GRADE-CERQual confidence in findings is moderate. Recommendations informed by the synthesis findings are made for the future development of interventions. Clinicians and health service providers who manage self-harm in young people should incorporate these identified unmet needs of supporting individuals in a holistic approach to self-harm care. Future research must co-produce and evaluate interventions for supporting individuals.

More information Original publication



Journal article




eClinicalMedicine - The Lancet

Publication Date



Faraz Mughal was supported by a NIHR School for Primary Care Research GP Career Progression Fellowship (SCPR-157 2020–20)


Self-harm, Young people, Thematic synthesis, Parents, Carers, Family