Mental Health Support for Girls in Alternative Education

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


Research findings presented at JSWEC Conference 2022.
Abstract: By late adolescence, girls are more than twice as likely than boys to experience mental ill health. For some young people, schools can provide a nurturing environment where mental health is fostered, but for a minority of girls, attending male-dominated, alternative education settings puts them at risk of isolation, stereotyping and a lack of engagement in same-sex friendships. But, little is currently known about girls’ experiences in alternative provision. Through semi-structured interviews and focus groups with a purposive sample of ten girls aged 14-16 years from alternative education settings, the current study sought to investigate girls’ experiences of mental health and wellbeing support in alternative education. Findings showed that girls benefitted from the support structures in place in alternative education including strong relationships with female staff members, which are particularly important for girls encountering health issues. Flexible approaches to working also helped to reduce experiences of stress and pressure. However, while girls had friends in their current educational settings, some had experienced difficulties maintaining friendships with peers from previous mainstream provision, which had caused distress. Some also suggested there is a stigma attached to alternative provision with attendees assumed to be ‘naughty kids’. Overall, the findings highlighted girls’ views on supportive practices that should be shared with practitioners and policymakers looking to enhance mental health and wellbeing support in schools. The findings also showed there is a need for further investigation into the impacts on girls transitioning into alternative education, particularly with regards to peer relationships and discrimination.
PeriodJun 2022
Event titleJoint Social Work Education and Research Conference 2022
Event typeConference