Contextualising youth emotional health and wellbeing
: Teachers’ experiences, perceptions and views about their role working with young people, who present with emotional difficulties

  • Dorothy Lutton

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education


This context specific action research, explores post primary school teachers’ professional experiences in their dealings with pupils’ emotional difficulties, in order to develop a conceptualised change for improved school practice, including what personal emotional support staff need, in order to meet the requirements of pupils. The theoretical framework for the study draws from Bourdieu’s theories of social reproduction and cultural capital, along with Breakwell’s theory of identity and social representations. Identifying and understanding individual teacher positions is of crucial importance, in an area where teachers are believed to be key contributors in the wider support mechanism for pupils exhibiting a range of health and wellbeing problems.

This study is based on a qualitative approach. There were two phases: phase one included three focus group interviews and one individual interview with fifteen staff participating. Following a series of school actions, phase two was implemented. This included ten individual interviews. All interviewed at phase two had participated in phase one.

Transcripts of the interviews were analysed using thematic analysis. The high inputs of the teachers’ own words are integral to the authentication of the study. Five themes emerged: Stress; Support; Training, Roles and Responsibilities, and School Culture and Identity.

The outcomes provide an insight into individual and group emotional and cognitive processes. They offer an illumination into some of the subjective beliefs held by staff and directed thinking to a realistic improvement for current school practices to meet the practical and emotional needs of staff and pupils.
Date of AwardJul 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorKatrina Lloyd (Supervisor) & Sarah Miller (Supervisor)


  • Professional identity
  • roles and responsibilities
  • school ethos
  • emotional health and wellbeing
  • training
  • practice

Cite this