Exploring the views of adolescent boys in school about how they cope with their worries or concerns

  • Aine Fitzpatrick

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The mental health of young people in today’s society is a growing concern for parents and professionals. Research has identified that young people use an array of coping strategies to help them cope with the stressors they face, and the role of schools in supporting young people’s mental health is becoming increasingly recognised. An exploratory sequential mixed-method design was adopted to explore the views of adolescent male pupils (aged 16 – 17 years) in Northern Ireland, about how they cope with worries and concerns, and their views on how educational settings can help them cope. In phase one, eight participants from four post-primary schools took part in semi-structured interviews. A questionnaire regarding coping strategies and school support was developed in response to interview data. In phase two, one-hundred and seven participants from participating schools completed the questionnaire. Interview data was analysed using thematic analysis and descriptive statistics were conducted on the questionnaire data. The study found that participants faced multiple stressors and used a range of coping strategies to help them manage their worries. Participants’ coping responses were multi-faceted and were influenced by facilitating factors and barriers to coping. Participants desired various school supports, including mental health to remain a priority for schools, positive relationships with teachers and downtime. Findings are discussed in relation to existing literature and considerations are proposed. Recommendations and implications for educational psychology practice are discussed and directions for future research are presented.
Date of AwardDec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsNorthern Ireland Department for the Economy
SupervisorAgnieszka Graham (Supervisor) & Maria McAleese (Supervisor)


  • Adolescent
  • males
  • mental health
  • coping
  • school
  • coping strategies
  • adolescent health
  • worry

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