Resilience or Risk? Exploring the Impact of Rurality on Youth Mental Health

Funding has been secured through the Lishman Health Foundation by Dr Sarah Youngson at RCSWA to research the impact of living in a rural area on the mental health of young people. The study seeks to explore the risk and protective factors of a rural address on youth mental health.

Risk factors for mental illness are magnified in rural communities, with stigma, lack of anonymity, and access to services being dominant factors. In contrast, a rural residence confers a number of protective factors which warrant further exploration. The strengthening of these factors has the potential to mitigate the risks of rurality on youth mental health.

The study will utilise qualitative methods, based on a phenomenological world view which will attempt to understand the lived experienced of young people in rural communities. The study will be guided by the principles of participatory action research, in which the group being researched – rural young people – will be actively involved in the research process (Baum, MacDougall, & Smith, 2006). Participatory Action Research (PAR) includes involving those most affected by the issue under investigation, being directly involved in the development of the inquiry process as well as the implementation of any actions that arise from the process (Crane & O’Regan, 2010).