Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (Research)


Social & General Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Aine de Roiste

Second Advisor

Roisin Lane


Adolescence is a particularly vulnerable life stage during which mental health challenges can occur and “in order to create a positive state of mental health and well-being it is imperative for young people to be able to recognise which aspects of life have a positive and damaging effect on their mental health” (HSE, 2007: 14). Irish research states that “Positive mental health enables young people to live fulfilling lives and promoting the mental health and wellbeing of our young people is a shared responsibility and is everybody’s business” (Department of Education and Skills & Health Service Executive & Department of Health, 2013 :2). “Schools are in a unique position to promote mental health and emotional wellbeing and to identify young people experiencing emotional distress” (ibid; 2).

This study (undertaken in Ireland) was designed with a dual intent: to (1) examine young people’s mental health awareness (including their perceptions towards and attitudes towards mental health) and (2) evaluate a pilot project developed in Connaught (Ireland) aimed at promoting positive mental health to young people (Appendix 1).

Sample and Method: The study used a mixed methods triangulation design including a survey, interviews and focus groups which best serve the purpose of this research. This design was used to gather both qualitative and quantitative data from different methods increasing validity by incorporating several viewpoints and methods.

Findings: Overall, the research found that young people have a positive attitude towards mental health and understand the need to care for both their mental and physical health. They were also aware of which aspects of life have positive and detrimental effects on their mental health and a strong link is apparent between social support and promoting positive mental health. Males in this research felt they knew ‘enough’ about mental health in comparison to females which may suggest a gender difference in terms of mental health awareness. While schools are in a unique position to promote positive mental health, negative terms were used to describe the SPHE' class such as ''useless” and "stupUr. While the (magazine) created in Connaught (Ireland) was evaluated positively by those who engage with it (n=138) and mental health professionals (n=6) who evaluated it, participants who did not engage with the magazine also had positive mental health perceptions, thus leading to the conclusion that the magazine as an intervention did not significantly affect attitudes and perceptions of mental health. In saying that, without exception the mental health professionals agreed that this magazine was a "worthwhile initiative in the promotion of positive mental health to young people'" (Table 4.10) however, suggested changes for improvement.

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