Mental health needs in vulnerable youth populations

Irabor, Jennifer (2014). Mental health needs in vulnerable youth populations. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Although the high prevalence of mental health difficulties in young people is well recognised, there is limited research examining the mental health needs of care leavers and socially disengaged young people (NEET, not in employment training or education). With youth unemployment on the rise and more young people entering the care system, their wellbeing is becoming a priority for research and policy.

A mental health screening was undertaken with 74 care leavers and 84 NEET young people ages 15 to 25. Psychometric screening tools included the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and the PROD screen. Focus groups provided information on the mental health literacy of young people and how this could potentially hinder help seeking behaviour. Lastly, a mental health training course aimed at care leaver staff was evaluated through pre and post-questionnaires and telephone interviews.

Results indicated that care leavers and NEET young people experienced significantly more mental health difficulties compared to young people in the general youth population. Emotional difficulties were the most prevalent in care leavers and peer difficulties were the most prevalent in NEET young people. Focus groups revealed that in general young people had negative attitudes about mental illness, which can in fact discourage help seeking behaviour. The staff training evaluation revealed that the LAC mental health pilot training programme was an effective way of improving staff mental health literacy and ultimately improving youth services.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Psychology
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare


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