The views of students, parents and teachers concerning mental health terminology and mental health promotion in primary schools in Ireland

Prof Doc Thesis

O' Dea, Theresa 2010. The views of students, parents and teachers concerning mental health terminology and mental health promotion in primary schools in Ireland. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsO' Dea, Theresa
TypeProf Doc Thesis

This research study is primarily an explorative study concerned with the views of
students, parents and teachers about mental health promotion activity in five selected
primary schools in Co. Kildare in the Republic of Ireland. A mixed methodology
approach was used that involved both quantitative and qualitative phases. The views of
teachers were sought through semi-structured interviews and the views of students and
parents were elicited through focus groups.
The quantitative phase (Phase 1) of the study was undertaken to screen out the five
highest ranked primary schools in terms of self-reported positive mental health of final
year students by means of the Multi Dimensional Self Concept Scale for participation in
the qualitative phase (Phase 2) of the research study. The researcher also explored the
relationship between the variables of school size and school type (single sex/mixed,
urban/rural) with school global self concept/mental health. Quantitative data analysis
revealed no significant difference between these variables in this research study sample.
The qualitative phase was carried out within the five selected schools identified in Phase
1 of the research study. The views of participants were sought concerning their
understanding of mental health terminology and factors and processes within their own
schools that contributed to student mental health. The role of primary schools in mental
health promotion, barriers to mental health promotion and what is still needed concerning
mental health promotion in schools was also explored.
Thematic analysis revealed that research participants held more positive associations with
the terms 'mental health' and 'positive mental health' than negative associations.
However, verbatim responses encompassed some negative associations with both terms
and some teachers conceptualised 'mental health' in an entirely negative manner. Efforts
to raise mental health awareness and to empower and help students and adults were
encompassed within participants' understanding of the term 'promoting positive mental
health'. Many of the general factors and processes that participants identified as important for the
mental health of students were also perceived by them to be catered for within their own
school contexts. These were typically associated with good school practices that could be
described as relatively low cost activities. These included, providing a variety of
activities, positive relationships/communication, psychologically supportive/secure
environments, addressing the holistic needs of the child, effective mental health
leadership, facilitative learning approaches and whole school endeavors.
Research findings indicated that participants view mental health promotion as an
important endeavour in schools and that they value and support an educational agenda
that involves a broad range of mental health promotion activity. The school role
concerning mental health promotion was understood to include much more than mental
health provision for students who present with mental health issues. The need for Social,
Personal, Health Education [SPHE], additional resources for schools, more awareness
about mental health promotion, teacher training in mental health and leadership in school
mental health promotion were some factors identified. Barriers to school mental health
promotion included internal and external factors to schools.
Suggestions for future research and implications for educational psychologists with
regard to advancing the field of school mental health are distinctive contributions of this
research study. Raising awareness of the results of this research study across primary
schools will help schools understand that school context is an important factor in the
promotion of mental health and well-being of students.

Publication dates
PrintSep 2010
Publication process dates
Deposited12 Jun 2014
Additional information

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