Silencing the stigma of hearing voices: Implications for Educational Psychology understanding and practice

Assignment type: Essay
Author: Ffion Davies
Submitted: March 2021

There is a great deal of stigma surrounding the experience of hearing voices despite findings that it is common, especially among children and young people. In children it is often transient, possibly part of normal development, and can be a positive experience. The Hearing Voices Movement urges a move away from a medical model and towards understanding hearing voices as part of a meaningful human experience. Possible explanations as to why people hear voices include coping with trauma, to serve a social function, or part of normal development. Evidence suggests different underlying mechanisms for positive vs negative experiences. More research is needed on how best to support young people in school and it is important that young people are included in research. Educational Psychologists are in a unique position to provide support on several levels, including individual, school and societal with an emphasis on normalising the experience and removing stigma.

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Davies, F(2022, 1 August)Silencing the stigma of hearing voices: Implications for Educational Psychology understanding and practice. University of Southampton Educational Psychology research blog.

Mental health beyond the school gate: Young people’s perspectives of mental health support online, and in home, school and community contexts (2020)

Authors: Natalie Jago, Sarah Wright, Brettany K. Hartwell and Rachel Green
Published: 2020
Publication: Educational and Child Psychology

Aims: This study sought to develop a greater understanding of what young people identify as essential components of mental health support.
Rationale: Children and young people’s mental health has been identified as an area of concern and highlighted by the government as a priority area for improvement. In the United Kingdom (UK), increased importance has been placed on capturing their views. However, research suggests this group is not always asked for their views by decision-makers leading to a discrepancy between what is provided and what children and young people want from support. Incorporating the views and perspectives of children and young people in the design of appropriate support approaches is an important way to give them a voice in issues that affect them, as well as ensuring provision is suitable.
Method: A two-round Delphi method was used whereby a panel of young people aged 16-25 who had previously experienced a mental health difficulty rated a series of statements. A consensus level of 75% across the panel was set to include/exclude statements in a final framework of recommendations. To gain feedback on the feasibility and utility of the framework, interviews with adult stakeholders were carried out.
Findings: The competencies identified were used to form a framework of recommendations for practice. The importance of relationships, the need for trust and confidentiality, and the need for further mental health awareness and training were key themes identified.
Conclusions: This study provides a helpful insight into what young people value from mental health support. Implications of the research include a need for further awareness raising of children and young people’s views regarding mental health and larger scale participatory research to expand upon the findings of the current study.

Jago, N., Wright, S., Hartwell, B. K. & Green, R. (2020) Mental Health Beyond the School Gate: Young People’s Perspectives of Mental Health Support Online, and in Home, School and Community Contexts. Educational and Child Psychology, 37(3), 69-85.

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