COPING: a CO-produced Psychosocial INtervention delivered by GPs for young people who self-harm

The COPING study

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The COPING study will work in partnership with young people aged 16-25 with lived experience of self-harm and GPs to develop a treatment guide (called COPING) for GPs to use with young people to reduce repeat self-harm.

The COPING study is a four-year research programme that began in January 2021.

Self-harm in young people is a major public health problem and impacts young people, families, society, and the health service. Around one in four young people have harmed themselves previously. It is important self-harm in young people is taken seriously as self-harm is a strong risk factor for suicide.

Young people commonly reach out to their GP for help with their self-harm. GPs however are limited at the moment with what they can offer to young people who self-harm because there is a lack of evidence and clinical guidelines of how GPs should help young people who struggle with self-harm.

The COPING study aims to change this by providing high-quality research evidence to inform a future full-scale clinical trial of COPING in the NHS to guide GPs in managing self-harm in young people.

Stage 1:

Interviews with GPs to understand clinical practice and gain thoughts on acceptable and realistic elements of COPING

Stage 2:

Findings from stage 1 will be used together with evidence to help the co-production of COPING with young people who have harmed themselves and GPs. COPING will then be refined through practice consultations.

Stage 3:

GPs will then deliver COPING to patients in general practice to see if it is possible to do a large trial and see if COPING is acceptable to both patients and GPs.

The research team will make improvements to COPING based on the results. Patient, family, public, and stakeholder involvement informs all stages of this study.

Chief Investigator: Dr Faraz Mughal

Faraz is an NHS GP and researcher working at the School of Medicine, Keele University. He leads the COPING study which is funded by his NIHR Doctoral Fellowship. He is passionate about improving the care of young people who have harmed themselves in general practice.


Faraz is supported by:

Keele GP awarded prestigious research fellowship to help young people who self-harm

9 November 2020

Dr Faraz Mughal, a GP and researcher at the School of Medicine, Keele University has been awarded a National Institute for Health Research Doctoral Fellowship (£476,657) to improve the care young people aged 16-25 received from their GP for self-harm.

This new research study is led by Dr Faraz Mughal and supported by Professor Carolyn Chew-Graham, Professor Lisa Dikomitis, and Professor Gillian Lancaster of the School of Medicine, Keele University, and Professor Ellen Townsend, from the Self-harm Research Group, University of Nottingham.

View the full story on the Keele website. This story is also published on the NIHR School for Primary Care Research website.


We are now recruiting GPs for stage 1. If you are interested in participating, please contact us.

Young people who have harmed themselves

We will soon be recruiting young people aged 16-25 with lived experience of self-harm for our co-production work in 2022. If you are interested in being involved in the planned co-production work, please contact us.

Publications that informed this study:
  • Mughal F, Dikomitis L, Babatunde O, Chew-Graham CA. Experiences of general practice care for self-harm: a qualitative study of young people's perspectives. Br J Gen Pract 2021;71(711):e744-e752 link> doi> link> full text>
  • Michail M, Mughal F, Robinson J. Suicide prevention in young people: optimising primary care. Br J Gen Pract 2020;70(692):104-105 link> doi> full text>
  • Mughal F, et al. Role of the GP in the management of patients with self-harm behaviour: a systematic review. Br J Gen Pract 2020;70(694):e364-e373 link> doi> full text>
  • Mughal F, Troya MI, Townsend E, Chew-Graham CA. Supporting young people with self-harm behaviour in primary care. Lancet Psychiatry 2019;6(9):724 link> doi> link> full text>
  • Mughal F, et al. Self-harm in young people: the exceptional potential of the general practice consultation. Br J Gen Prac 2019;69(681):168-169 link> doi> full text>
  • Mughal F, Dikomitis L, Babatunde OO, Chew-Graham CA. 2022. The potential of general practice to support young people who self-harm: a narrative review. BJGP Open, BJGPO.2021.0159. link> doi> link> full text>

Details of study engagement events will be advertised in due course.

Dr Faraz Mughal

School of Medicine, Keele University

This website presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research under a Doctoral Fellowship (NIHR300957). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, National Institute for Health and Care Research or the Department of Health and Social Care.