Adolescent Mental Health in Schools: Help-Seeking and Student-Led Approaches

  • Emma Barrow

Student thesis: Doctor of Educational and Child Psychology


Background: There has been a growing national focus on the mental health of children and young people (CYP). Despite increasing incidence rates of mental health difficulties, only a small proportion of adolescents will access support. It is proposed that schools have the potential to provide an integral, universal access point to deliver services that endeavour to support the assessment and identification of mental health difficulties and promote positive wellbeing. There is a key role for Educational Psychologists (EPs) in supporting school-based mental health approaches. Methods/participants: Paper One is a systematic literature review (SLR) that sought to explore school-based barriers and facilitators to mental health help-seeking. Twelve eligible studies were identified and critically appraised. Paper Two is an empirical study, employing an exploratory design around the implementation of a novel student-led mental health strategy. Individual and paired depth interviews were carried out with five participants, including students, school staff and the school's link Education Psychologist (EP). The interviews were thematically analysed. Analysis/findings: The findings of the SLR identified a range of barriers and facilitators to adolescent mental health help-seeking, highlighting important implications for improving the propensity to seek help. The empirical investigation identified factors impacting on the implementation of a student-led mental health strategy and future considerations for the replication of similar initiatives. Reflections on the findings with relevance to the EP role are presented. Conclusion/implications: Strategies to promote help-seeking behaviours in adolescents are outlined, along with implications for future research and practice. Following an empirical investigation of a student-led mental health strategy, an ecological model of implementation is proposed, along with recommendations for future replication. Finally, Paper Three includes a dissemination strategy for sharing the findings highlighted in Papers One and Two with the research site, within the local and organsiational contexts and the EP community.
Date of Award31 Dec 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorCaroline Bond (Supervisor) & George Thomas (Supervisor)


  • help-seeking
  • mental health
  • adolescent
  • student-led
  • barriers
  • facilitators

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