Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Psychology

Socioeconomic Deprivation and Non-Suicidal Self-Injury in New Zealand Adolescents: The Mediating Role of Depression and Anxiety

Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Psychology

Socioeconomic Deprivation and Non-Suicidal Self-Injury in New Zealand Adolescents: The Mediating Role of Depression and Anxiety

Article excerpt

Within recent decades, research on Non-Suicidal SelfInjury (NSSI) has been a burgeoning field of study. NSSI includes deliberate behaviours such as cuffing and scratching the skin, which occur without suicidal intent and for purposes which are not culturally sanctioned (Nock & Prinstein, 2004), typically as strategies to manage overwhelming emotions or to punish the self (Klonsky, 2007; Nock & Prinstein, 2004). Compared to 6% of community adults (Klonsky, 2011), approximately 17% of adolescents report having deliberately engaged in NSSI (Muehlenkamp, Claes, Havertape, & Plener, 2012; Swannell, Martin, Page, Hasking, & St John, 2014). The high international prevalence of adolescent NSSI is mirrored in Aotearoa New Zealand, where almost 50% of secondary school students report having engaged in NSSI at least once (Garisch & Wilson, 2015). Given the high individual, social, and economic costs associated with NSSI (see for example, Garisch & Wilson, 2015; Guan, Fox, & Prinstein, 2012; O'Dea & Wren, 2010), understanding the complex array of factors which contribute to the development and maintenance of self-injury is critical.

An individual's wellbeing is dynamically created by both psychological factors as well as the socioeconomic environment in which they live (see World Health Organisation, 2012). Prior research has identified a range of psychological characteristics that increase risk of NSSI, such as high levels of emotional dysregulation and in-expressivity (Garisch & Wilson, 2015; Gratz & Chapman, 2007), hopelessness (Wilkinson, Kelvin, Roberts, Dubicka, Goodyer, 2011), identity confusion (Gandhi et al., 2017), and mental illnesses such as depression (Cox et al., 2012; Duggan, Heath & Hu, 2015) and anxiety (Wilkinson et al., 2011). Investigation of environmental factors has mainly focused on poor social supports systems (Andrews, Martin, Hasking & Page, 2014; Hankin & Abela, 2011) and life stressors (Guerry & Prinstein, 2009; Hankin & Abela, 2011). Although wider health research has demonstrated a robust relationship between socioeconomic deprivation and poorer mental health outcomes (see for example, Braveman & Barclay, 2009; Kuh, Hardy, Langenberg, Richards, & Wadsworth, 2002; Reiss, 2013; Twenge & Campbell, 2016; Wilkinson, 1992), the specific relationship between socioeconomic deprivation and NSSI has received much less investigation.

Socioeconomic deprivation in Aotearoa New Zealand

Socioeconomic deprivation is defined as falling below the adequate standard of living according to the majority of a particular society (Herbert, 1975; Townsend, Phillimore & Beattie, 1988). Those who are identified as 'deprived' experience more hardships than their peers and have insufficient access to resources, such as food, education and health care (Pearce, Witten, Hiscock & Blakely, 2008). Due to the complexity of the construct, previous research has operationalised socioeconomic deprivation in a number of different ways.

Denny and colleagues (2016) measured household deprivation in 2012 within a nationally representative sample of 8,500 Aotearoa New Zealand adolescents by asking about nine non-income indicators, such as family, car, and computer ownership, and if participants' parents ever worry about not having enough money for food. Latent class analysis revealed three groups; 80% of participants were classified as not experiencing deprivation, 15% as experiencing moderate deprivation, and 5% of participants were classified as experiencing high deprivation. Using more recent data from the 2014 New Zealand Economic Survey, the Child Poverty Monitor Technical Report (Perry, 2015) used a relative threshold measure, whereby a child (0-17 years old) was considered to be living in poverty if, taking into account housing costs, their family income fell below 60% of the median income. In 2014, 29% of Aotearoa New Zealand children and adolescents were classified as living in socioeconomic deprivation, an increase from 24% in 2013. …

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