A study of the multiple ways in which adolescent boys talked about their admissions to a regional adolescent unit
Changes in the profile of adolescent boys' and young mens' mental health and behaviour has ocurred over the last twenty years, with increases in rates of suicide, parasuicide and conduct disorders. Factors contributing to these changes are unclear but have been theorised by academics within the fields of social psychology, clinical psychology and sociology to be linked to a contemporary 'crisis' in masculinity. This study explored the multiple ways in which five adolescent boys talked about their experiences which had led to their admission to an adolescent unit. The study set up a theoretical framework for researching the ways in which the boys constructed their accounts. It used a combination of narrative, thematic and discourse analytic methods, focusing on tensions within the boys' narratives and how they drew on wider cultural discourses. The main findings suggest that the boys talked about their distress and emotions in multiple and diverse ways which may not be immediately apparent. The positionings they took up within their accounts appeared constrained by influences from cultural discourses, power relations of their immediate and wider social contexts and their life-histories. The research highlights the need for clinicians to be sensitive to issues of gender subjectivities and culture in their work and in the future development of services for young men. Limitations of the study are discussed.