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Exploring how teachers’ explanatory frameworks of mental health difficulties, impact on their responses to students


Project Description

Teachers are set to play an increasingly important role in supporting young peoples’ mental-health. The ways in which teachers make sense of mental health problems are likely to determine how they respond, which in turn is likely to impact on how the young person frames these experiences, their self-management, and their future help seeking behaviour. This PhD project aims to assess teachers’ explanatory models of mental health related experiences, and how different underlying beliefs are associated with emotional/behavioural responses including normalising, referral to mental health services, and stigma.

Study1-Narrative conceptual review to explore historical and cross cultural schools-based mental health interventions to contextualise the current study, and assess the extent to which current explanatory frameworks employed by teachers are deeply culturally rooted or historically contingent.

Study2-In-depth qualitative interviews to explore teachers’ experiences of discussing mental health difficulties with a student, identifying their explanatory frameworks, their responses, and factors about the context or individual that impinge on the explanatory framework. Purposive sampling will identify a group of (approximately 15-20) teachers across a range of expertise and roles. Data from study 2 will be used to draft realistic vignettes describing children and young people presenting with mental health related issues within school, and to develop a checklist capturing the range of likely behavioural responses by teachers.

Study3- a large sample of teachers (sample size based on formal power calculation) will be invited to read the vignettes and complete questionnaires to assess their explanatory models (IPQ adapted for this study), their likely behavioural response (using checklist) and their emotional response (stigma measure) – for each of the vignettes. Sampling will ensure a broad range of expertise and training. Statistical analysis will assess how teachers responses vary in response to the different vignettes, and extent to which responses are mediated by their underlying explanatory frameworks.

For further information about the project please contact

Applications are made by completing an application for PhD Health Research October 2019 through our online application system. Closing date: midnight 15th March 2019

Funding Notes

Awards are available for UK or EU students only for a maximum of three years full-time study. Awards will cover University Tuition Fees and stipend at Research Council Doctoral Stipend Level (2018-2019: £14,777).

How good is research at Lancaster University in Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 64.40

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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