Teaching assistants' experiences of supporting children's mental health: An IPA study

Conboy, Ida (2020) Teaching assistants' experiences of supporting children's mental health: An IPA study. Professional Doctorate thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust / University of Essex. Full text available

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The prevalence of mental health disorders in children and young people has increased and Child, Adolescent and Mental Health Services (CAMHSs) are struggling to respond to the current need. Pressure is therefore being placed on schools to provide support for children’s mental health. Previous research has focussed on teachers’ experiences of supporting children’s mental health and little is known about other school staff’s experiences, such as teaching assistants (TAs). This thesis explored how seven primary school TAs experienced their role in supporting children’s mental health. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Four main themes were generated to summarise the TAs’ experiences: (1) Perception and Knowledge of Children’s Mental Health; (2) How TAs Support Children’s Mental Health; (3) Working Within the School System; (4) The Emotional Experience. The participants believed that they supported children’s mental health and particularly referenced the close relationships that they formed with children. Throughout their experiences, the TAs referenced benefits (e.g. staff support) and challenges (e.g. a lack of time) within the school system; and their position in the school hierarchy also impacted their role. Supporting children’s mental health was an emotional experience for the TAs; they discussed the rewarding element, however, the topic also elicited fear in TAs. In the discussion of the findings, the TAs’ accounts are linked to various psychological theories to help explore their experiences. The findings provide several implications for EPs and schools as well as outlining directions for future research.

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: Disabilities & Disorders (mental & physical) > Mental Disorders
Groups & Organisations > Occupational Groups
Learning & Education > Educational Psychology
Learning & Education > Learning & Education in Psychology
Research, Tests, Assessments > Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services
URI: https://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/2329

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