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An exploration of adolescents' experiences of mental health

Alexandra, D; (2016) An exploration of adolescents' experiences of mental health. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Within the UK there are an increasing number of young people who have been identified as having mental health difficulties. However, given the limited amount of qualitative literature in this area, it is unclear as to what young people’s experiences of mental health are. This interview study involved eleven young people from three different secondary schools who had been identified as having mental health difficulties and who were subsequently referred to a school counsellor. Participants were asked about their understanding of why they were referred to a school counsellor, the challenges they faced in their lives and their experiences of support that they had been given. Data collected was analysed using thematic analysis and six themes were found which included “sources of distress”, “feeling unsupported”, “feelings of distress”, “habitual strategies for coping with distress”, “gaining support” and “further support the participants would like”. The key findings of the study revealed that the participants faced multiple and prolonged challenges at home and at school which included adverse family circumstances, hostile peer interactions and societal pressures relating to appearance and behaviour. Participants felt largely unsupported in dealing with these challenging contexts. They developed a range of unhealthy coping strategies which were interpreted by adults as indicators of mental health difficulties. The association with mental health difficulties helped to obscure the challenges that the participants faced in their lives and the underlying reasons for their distress. The findings suggest serious shortcomings in the support that is commonly made available to young people in relation to their mental well-being. The research provides recommendations for schools and educational psychologists in order to support the well-being of young people.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: An exploration of adolescents' experiences of mental health
Event: University College London
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1527387
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