‘Push on through’: Children’s perspectives on the narratives of resilience in schools identified for intensive mental health promotion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Child mental health is a growing concern for policymakers across the global north. Schools have become a key site for mental health interventions, with new programmes aimed at promoting ‘resilience’, through which children may maintain or regain mental health during adversity. As one of the first studies to explore the early impact of intensive mental health promotion in schools from children’s perspectives, we adopt a governmentality approach to consider the logic and techniques of such programmes with a specific focus on England. An innovative visual methodology was used to focus on student perspectives of mental health interventions in school. Young peoples’ photo representations of mental health were collected and used to stimulate focus group discussions with 65 students aged 12–14, across seven schools. ‘Resilience’ was seen to be the key organising concept for mental health interventions in schools. The concept was viewed as narrowly focused on attitude towards—and performance in—school work, with individuals being encouraged to ‘push on through’ difficulties to achieve success. Young people were critical of this approach, suggesting several alternatives. These included increased access to independent mental health professionals, safe spaces within schools and mental health education that addressed the social and affective dimensions of mental health difficulties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Early online date22 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2020


  • Mental health
  • Resilience
  • Children
  • Schooling
  • Photo-elicitation
  • governmentality
  • children
  • mental health
  • photo-elicitation
  • resilience
  • schooling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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