Overcoming Stigma: How Young People Position Themselves as Counselling Service Users

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Abstract

Increasing attention has been focused on adolescent help-seeking in relation to services aimed at promoting mental health and wellbeing. Much research reinforces the ubiquity of concerns about negative stigmatisation by peers as a barrier to young people accessing services. This paper draws on interviews conducted with young people, who completed a course of counselling in school, to investigate how they managed and negotiated this. Drawing on positioning theory from discourse analysis, young people’s accounts are analysed with reference to the variety of positions they articulated and adopted. This demonstrates how they elaborated and reinforced virtuous problem-solver positions within broader discourses of individualisation and normalisation, and resisted positioning within a stigmatised mental illness discourse. Although focused on a small sample, the analysis offers potential insights into the ways other people may negotiate stigma concerns to access mental health resources, while also demonstrating the utility of positioning theory for understanding stigma and normalisation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)697-713
JournalSociology of Health & Illness
Volume34
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012

Keywords

  • stigma
  • help-seeking
  • school counselling
  • young people
  • positioning

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