An Exploration of Adolescent Boys’ Perceptions of Mental Health and Awareness of School-Based Support Systems

Prof Doc Thesis

Turi, L. 2023. An Exploration of Adolescent Boys’ Perceptions of Mental Health and Awareness of School-Based Support Systems. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsTuri, L.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Historically, there has been a disparity in the ways in which mental health are viewed by males and females, and also in how society has directed and determined the appropriateness and acceptability for these groups to express difficulties with mental health, and to seek support. Males have typically been encouraged to hide their feelings and emotions and to adopt a stoic stance, whilst females have been encouraged to express their feelings and difficulties, and to seek support when needed. This research explored adolescent, cisgender boys’, aged between 11 to 16 years, perceptions and understanding of, and attitudes to mental health, as well as their awareness of support systems available to them, and was conducted from a social constructionist perspective. The views of five cisgender, adolescent males were elicited using semi-structured interviews, conducted virtually. Themes were identified using Thematic Analysis with a deductive perspective. Participants constructed a range of meanings of the term “mental health”, together with varying levels of awareness of support available to them. Differences in how girls and boys perceive and share ideas linked to mental health were identified, with participants uniformly reporting that they felt it is easier for girls to express feelings and mental health difficulties, and to seek help. Participants identified three main sources of support: school, the internet and friends and families. Relationships were deemed important in relation to the seeking of mental health support and also to maintaining positive mental health, and participants felt, generally, that schools were providing adequate mental health support. The internet was thought to be both a positive and negative force in relation to mental health and related support. Participants also found helpful the perceived distance that speaking to others via a screen affords. Although participants felt many traditionally held, gender-based stereotypes linked to mental health still exist, they neither agreed with nor subscribed to them.

KeywordsAdolescent; boys; mental health; support system; perception
PublisherUniversity of East London
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Publication dates
Online27 Sep 2023
Publication process dates
Completed31 Jan 2023
Deposited27 Sep 2023
Copyright holder© 2023, The Author
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