An Exploration of Mental Health Constructions and Children’s Evaluation of a Local Authority’s TaMHS Therapeutic Resource

PhD Thesis

Estee-Wale, Ricardo 2013. An Exploration of Mental Health Constructions and Children’s Evaluation of a Local Authority’s TaMHS Therapeutic Resource. PhD Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsEstee-Wale, Ricardo
TypePhD Thesis

Recent government policies and initiatives such as ‘Extended Schools’, Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) and Every Child Matters (ECM) are a recognition that schools play a wider role beyond their traditional ones as citadels of learning. Within this new paradigm is an understanding that children and young people’s education may be adversely affected by their emotional well-being which in turn translates as mental ill health. The importance of children’s mental health in schools cannot be over-emphasised and this importance is evidenced by a government initiative - Targeted Mental Health in Schools (TaMHS) which enables children and young people to access mental health services in schools. This thesis explores and critiques the notion that mental health is a social construction and argues that the constructions that teachers and parents have of mental health goes a long way in determining which children are referred to and access TaMHS therapeutic interventions. This thesis adopts a qualitative approach and more specifically, the use of thematic analysis as a method of exploring mental health constructions held by relevant teaching staff, the parents of the children interviewed and the children themselves. The analysis also revealed that regardless of the TaMHS therapeutic intervention used, the therapies were viewed as having a positive effect on the children as a whole and there was a keen desire that the programme continues in light of the benefits garnered by the recipients of the therapies, that is, the children. The thesis highlights the importance of the voice of the child within educational and mental health paradigms by giving them the opportunity, through semi-structured interviews, to talk about their experiences of poor emotional well-being. The local authority where the TaMHS project was located had therapies that were delivered by qualified and trainee therapists specialising in art, play, drama therapies, counselling and reflexology; Educational Psychologists (EPs) were not involved in the delivery of therapies. This thesis argues that because EPs work extensively with children and young people in schools using a number of psychometric, evaluative and therapeutic interventions, they should therefore have a more prominent role in the delivery of therapies but for this to become a reality then the ways in which EPs are trained may have to be reviewed again. This thesis concludes by further examining the role of the EP within mental health structures and suggests ways in which the role of the EP can become more prominent within such structures.

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Deposited11 Dec 2014
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