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Exploring Adults’ Reflections of School whilst growing up with a Parent Experiencing Mental Health Problems

Rendle, Katie (2017) Exploring Adults’ Reflections of School whilst growing up with a Parent Experiencing Mental Health Problems. Manchester Metropolitan University. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Despite substantial research exploring the interplay between living with a mentally ill parent and schooling, there is very little qualitative research on the child’s experiential perspective of school. However, schools provide a crucial context for children and their development (Yan et al., 2016) and hence, researchers such as Sollberger (2002) plead for more extensive research on this so that we are able to understand more about their experiences and support them accordingly. Therefore, the present study aimed to build on this gap and explored adults’ retrospective experiences of school whilst growing up with a parent experiencing mental health problems. Seven participants aged between 18-24 years participated in a semi-structured interview. Narrative analysis was employed to explore the stories participants narrated, and study meaning and identity. Three main themes emerged: School as a Place of Escape, Schools’ Lack Of Mental Health Awareness and Role Reversal: Taking on the Parent Role. The overall analysis suggests school becomes a significant place for these children to escape and recover from home difficulties and the responsibilities in relation to their ill parent; however that a lack of understanding and knowledge around mental health issues still exists

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