An exploration of mental health issues in independent education: Undergraduates’ memories of their secondary schools

Lund, Leslie (2021) An exploration of mental health issues in independent education: Undergraduates’ memories of their secondary schools. DPsych thesis, Middlesex University / Metanoia Institute. [Thesis]

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Aims: This research investigated the lived mental health experiences of six university undergraduates as they looked back on their time at their independent secondary schools. The results will inform culturally specific counselling practices and school pastoral care programmes which support the psychological health and wellbeing of students, and it will contribute to further research into the mental health of young people within privileged secondary school environments.

Methods: This epistemologically pluralistic study juxtaposed two different methods of investigation:
1. Semi-structured interviews were used within an Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis methodology to explore the observations, attitudes, and feelings of the participants, then all transcripts were analysed phenomenologically to produce a richly detailed interpretation of the participants’ mental health experiences. An analysis of the data generated a number of themes and superordinate themes.
2. A survey of recent research in the field of sociology placed the participants' experiences within a wider social context.

Results: Three superordinate themes were revealed: ‘Needing the help of others’, 'Feeling pressured', and 'Ambivalence'. The participants’ said their mental health depended on the safety of their close bonds with friends, parents, and teachers, yet their statements also suggested that the competitive natures of their school communities, together with overly demanding academic standards, sometimes caused damaging stress levels which overwhelmed students’ ability to cope. Extreme time pressure compromised their ability to sleep, spend time with friends, or enjoy learning. They were ambivalent about having privileged advantages, and they felt guilty when they did not achieve 'success' by providing their parents with the 'value for money' of top grades. Even though the participants supported the need for more mental health education and counselling services within schools, they implied that asking for help was culturally discouraged, so they did not utilise school counselling.

Item Type: Thesis (DPsych)
Sustainable Development Goals:
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology
B. > Theses
C. Collaborative Partners > Metanoia Institute
Item ID: 37761
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2023 13:02
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2023 21:14

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