Parents’ communication to primary school-aged children about mental health and ill-health: a grounded theory study

Mueller, J., Greenwood, K. and Callanan, M. (2014) Parents’ communication to primary school-aged children about mental health and ill-health: a grounded theory study. Journal of Public Mental Health, 13 (1). pp. 13-19. ISSN 1746-5729.

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Abstract

Purpose – Stigma around mental health problems is known to emerge in middle childhood and persist into adulthood, yet almost nothing is known about the role of parents in this process. This paper aims to develop a model of parental communication to primary school-aged children around mental health and ill-health, to increase understanding about how stigma develops.

Design/methodology/approach – Semi-structured interviews were performed with ten UK-based parents of children aged 7-11 years. Analysis followed an exploratory grounded theory approach, incorporating quality assurance checks.

Findings – Parents’ communications are governed by the extent to which they view a particular issue as related to “Them” (mental ill-health) or to “Us” (mental health). In contrast to communication about “Us”, parental communication about mental “illness” is characterized by avoidance and contradiction, and driven by largely unconscious processes of taboo and stigma.

Originality/value – This study was the first to explore parents’ communications to their 7-11 year old children about mental health and mental illness, and proposes a preliminary theoretical model that may offer insight into the development of stigma in childhood and the intergenerational transmission of stigmatized attitudes.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF0712 Developmental psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology > Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology
Depositing User: Prof Margie Callanan
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2015 10:42
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2016 11:32
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/13909

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00