Mental health and Shame : A Foucauldian analysis of the discourses of South Asian girls and their teachers

Sangar, Maninder Kaur (2018). Mental health and Shame : A Foucauldian analysis of the discourses of South Asian girls and their teachers. University of Birmingham. Ap.Ed.&ChildPsy.D.

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Dominant discourses construct South Asian girls and women as having a high risk of internalised problems such as depression and anxiety. Existing literature suggests that services for mental distress are under-utilised by South Asian women with the construct ‘Shame’ cited as a potential barrier to help-seeking. Little research has examined how South Asian girls construct ‘Shame’ and ‘Mental Health’ and how these constructions relate to help-seeking. This study explores discourses of ‘Mental Health’ and ‘Shame’ through the talk of South Asian girls and their teachers. Foucauldian Discourse Analysis (Willig, 2008) is employed to analyse semi-structured interview data from seven girls and five teachers. This research specifically explores how South Asian girls are positioned within the discourses of ‘Shame’ and ‘Mental Health’ and how they “open up” or “close down” opportunities for help-seeking. The analysis highlights that discourses of Mental Health are complex, contradictory and tied to prevailing discourses of abnormality and the medicalisation of mental distress. Pupil and teacher discourses surfaced contemporary understandings of Mental Health as a universal and dynamic state, demonstrating a shift in discourse. Similarly, ‘Shame’ was constructed as oppressive, sexist and regulatory as well as helpful and protective. These constructions have implications for educational psychology practice.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ap.Ed.&ChildPsy.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ap.Ed.&ChildPsy.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Education
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
L Education > LC Special aspects of education


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