The link between mental health, social and emotional vulnerability and life chances : school based early identification of socially and emotionally vulnerable adolescents in a deprived urban community
The objectives of this work are to: - Explore the concept of adolescent vulnerability; - Establish easily administered, reliable means of early identification of the most vulnerable; and - Suggest some school level interventions. This research focuses on adolescents in a socially deprived area. The thesis contains two parts: Part I explores the theoretical contexts, examining the social, educational and moral climate, and concludes that potential vulnerability is not being identified early enough in young people's lives for effective interventions to be implemented. The phenomenon and experience of adolescence is explored from a variety of perspectives, and various definitions of adolescence examined. The broad range of experience representing both typical and atypical adolescence is considered. A range of socio-economic factors and psychometric measures are reviewed for potential use as early indicators of vulnerability. The four screening measures chosen from the range reviewed are social deprivation, selfesteem, locus of control (LoC) and coping strategies. Social deprivation indicators establish background levels of life chances and prospects. Selfesteem is used to identify the most vulnerable; locus of control adds information about the nature of their vulnerability, and coping strategies informs potential practical interventions. Part 2 focuses on practical research. The prospects of the subject population are explored using a range of indicators, including the social and educational alienation and dysfunction of its young adolescents. Six hypotheses are defined and the selected psychometric tools piloted and administered on all of Year 7 of the subject school. Pupils are identified as either vulnerable or not identifiably vulnerable. Case studies using semi-structured interviews are conducted, adding a qualitative, experiential dimension to the statistical, psychometric findings. Based on this research conclusions are drawn which have academic application and directly inform practical interventions which, if implemented in early adolescence, would potentially alleviate the identified vulnerability.