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Time to Change? A Qualitative Thematic Analysis Exploring Younger People's Attitudes and Awareness of Mental Illness.

Hughes, Rachel (2019) Time to Change? A Qualitative Thematic Analysis Exploring Younger People's Attitudes and Awareness of Mental Illness. Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

This study explored young adults’ attitudes and awareness of mental illness. It is well documented in previous research that stigmatising attitudes are prevalent within young adults, who are incidentally the most vulnerable to developing mental illness. This research utilised a qualitative method for data collection. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken in a variety of settings. Photo and video elicitation techniques were employed to the six participants interviewed. The sample consisted of males and females within the age range of 18-25. Data was analysed using thematic analysis, from which four central themes were developed; ‘Media Influences’, ‘Spotlight on Severe Mental Illness’, ‘Individualised Experiences of Mental Illness’ and ‘Lying About a Mental Illness’. Findings demonstrated an awareness of mental health and implications of negative stigmatising attitudes. Whilst an awareness existed into the benefits of familiarity with people who have mental illness, attitudes were contrasting. Participants were confused as to whether people with mental illness were violent, as often suggested within the media. The authenticity of mental illness came into question, with some sceptical as to whether people who opened up about their experiences were doing so for attention. Future exploration is needed to increase insight of attitudes, effectively informing mental health campaigns.

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