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

Journal article


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. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPMH-09-2013-0063
AuthorsMueller, J., Greenwood, K. and Callanan, M.
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.

Year2014
JournalJournal of Public Mental Health
Journal citation13 (1), pp. 13-19
PublisherEmerald
ISSN1746-5729
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1108/JPMH-09-2013-0063
Publication dates
Print2014
Publication process dates
Deposited30 Oct 2015
Accepted2014
Output statusPublished
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