Support? What support? An exploratory study of young people's experiences of living with depression during their student years

  • Dorota Martin

Student thesis: Doctor of Educational and Child Psychology


The recent changes in legislation and codes of practice expand the role of the educational psychologist to a wider age range: 0-25. Moreover, surveys suggest an increasing number of children and young people experience difficulties with mental health, including depression. A systematic literature review of what narratives young people use to communicate depression was undertaken in the first paper. Despite an abundance of literature about depression in clinical settings, only eight studies met the inclusion criteria and were incorporated in the synthesis. A number of issues were identified including ways and methods of communicating depression and the impact of normative pressures and gendered experiences. Findings have implications for practitioners working with young people and have been used to develop a tentative framework for effective practice. The second paper reports on qualitative research, adapting a phenomenological approach. The self-selected participant sample (three university students, aged 19-21) had experiences of living with depression. Each participant was interviewed three times, using focused semi-structured interviews. The data were subsequently transcribed and analysed using a framework of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith, Flowers & Larkin, 2009). The themes were grouped into superordinate themes and interpreted in the light of researcher's own experiences and knowledge. Two reported themes 'the weariness of the world was upon me' and 'it all fell down to chance' discuss embodied experiences of living with depression and barriers and facilitators to accessing help, which was mostly coincidental. Finally, the third paper discusses evidence-based practice, ways of achieving impact in research, and dissemination of research at individual, organisational and academic level. Overall, the present research suggests that educational psychologists can play an important role in raising awareness of children and young people living with depression, as well as promoting mental health, wellbeing and resilience in a variety of educational settings and amongst practitioners working with children and young people.
Date of Award31 Dec 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorCatharine Atkinson (Supervisor) & Caroline Bond (Supervisor)


  • young people; depression; communicating; narratives; systematic-review; lived experiences; schooling; educational psychologist; phenomenology; Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

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