Adolescents' Views on Mental Health and School-Based Support

Prof Doc Thesis

Daer, N. 2021. Adolescents' Views on Mental Health and School-Based Support. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsDaer, N.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Background: Adolescence is critical period of bio-psychosocial development and mental health problems during this stage can have long lasting consequences.

Growing concern about adolescent mental health has been fuelled by reports of increased prevalence of mental health problems, referrals to mental health services and perceived risk factors such as social media and, most recently, the Covid-19 pandemic. Effective strategies for addressing adolescent distress require up-to-date research on the nature and impact of these complex issues, yet chronic underfunding means that the evidence base remains limited. Research seeking the perspectives of adolescents themselves is particularly sparse, despite adolescents being a key source of information on the issues currently affecting them. At the same time, schools increasingly asked to support student wellbeing and incorporate mental health teaching into their curriculums have expressed concern about the lack of resources or guidance with which to do this.

Aims: To explore adolescents’ perspectives on the issue that they identify as impacting their mental health, and to gain their views on school-based support and teaching on mental health.

Method: A critical realist approach was adopted. Three focus groups were held with adolescent pupils (n=19) at one London school. The transcripts analysed using Thematic Analysis.

Results: Two main themes were generated: ‘Meeting Expectations’ and ‘Relationships with Teachers’.

Conclusion: The findings support the literature on adolescent identity development and the need for adolescents to gain a sense of competence, autonomy and meaningful relatedness to others. This linked to literature about the importance of the student-teacher relationship for wellbeing and connectedness at school. The findings added to the literature by identifying that providing spaces where adolescents’ views are sought and listened to by adults were the single best thing that adolescents felt schools could do to improve mental health support and teaching.

PublisherUniversity of East London
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Publication dates
Online20 Dec 2021
Publication process dates
Submitted22 Nov 2021
Deposited20 Dec 2021
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License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
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