Applying a cultural historical activity theory approach to explore the tensions within and between the roles of educational psychologists and primary mental health workers when supporting mental health needs in schools

Crosby, Emily (2022) Applying a cultural historical activity theory approach to explore the tensions within and between the roles of educational psychologists and primary mental health workers when supporting mental health needs in schools. Professional Doctorate thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust / University of Essex. Full text available

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Abstract

With the recent increase of Mental Health (MH) needs in Children and Young People (CYP) and budget cuts, exacerbated by the pandemic, there is a need to optimise support in schools. This research aims to look at how Educational Psychologists (EPs) and Primary Mental Health Workers (PMHWs) can operate in a Local Authority (LA) to best utilise resources to provide optimal support for CYP’s MH needs in schools. This research adopted a Third-Generation Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) framework to collect and analyse data from 6 EPs and 5 PMHWs practising in the same LA. Participants took part in semi-structured interviews to gain their views on their roles, each other’s roles and the supports and constraints in their everyday practice. Thematic analysis was undertaken to identify themes which were then mapped onto each of the nodes on the CHAT framework. This highlighted similarities and contradictions within and between the different professionals. EPs and PMHWs both aimed to support wellbeing in their practice, with EPs also supporting adults MH and PMHWs providing intervention for CYP MH diagnoses directly. Both EPs and PMHWs reported that they were constrained by educational pressures, time, and money. EPs reported that that they carried out short-term systemic, preventative work in schools whereas PMHWs tend to have longer direct therapeutic involvement with CYP. PMHWs had a greater understanding of the EP role compared to EPs of the PMHW role. These tensions within the different systems can be applied to develop future practice. This will ultimately then provide more effective support for CYP’s MH needs. This has further implications for the EP role in supporting MH needs in schools, as well as working with other professionals. Future directions for research are also provided.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Additional Information: Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the Professional Doctorate in Child, Community and Educational Psychology awarded by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in association with the University of Essex
Uncontrolled Keywords: Professional Doctorate in Child, Community and Educational Psychology Edpsych Updates
Subjects: Groups & Organisations > Occupational Groups
Learning & Education > Educational Psychology
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services
Research
URI: http://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/2709

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