Implementing a school-based, group-based mental health intervention with adolescent females with social, emotional, behavioural difficulties, known to have experienced, and been affected by, difficult life events, in an alternative education setting: A case study approach

  • Fiona Flinn

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Aim: To explore how 6 female students would engage with a group-based mental health intervention in an alternative education setting, and whether such an intervention would be effective at alleviating trauma and depressive symptoms, and improve psychosocial functioning.

Participants: 6 female students aged 15 years old took part in the intervention. Four staff members participated in qualitative interviews and 29 members of staff completed feedback surveys.

Method: A mental health programme was delivered to two groups, each with 3 students. The programme involved ten sessions delivered over a 5-week period. Participants’ trauma symptoms, depressive symptoms, and psychosocial functioning were measured pre- and post-intervention. Participants also took part in semi-structured interviews to gain insight into their experience of the programme. Two staff members were interviewed prior to the intervention to determine whether the intervention would be appropriate while two other staff members were interviewed on completion of the programme to determine whether staff had noticed any changes in the girls during the course of the intervention.

Results: All participants showed positive changes in a number of symptoms on completion of the programme. However, changes were variable and some negative changes were also observed. All participants reported to enjoy the programme and find it helpful. Staff reports towards the programme were very positive.

Conclusions: As a first step towards working with disengaged students excluded from mainstream education, this study illustrates the usefulness of group-based, school-based mental health programmes for students with social and emotional difficulties.

Date of AwardDec 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast

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