Tu, A. (2018). A descriptive study of adolescent perceptions of rural versus urban Kentucky high school student mental health challenges. The Young Researcher, 2 (1), 148-163.
Research has evaluated mental health perspectives of adults, but no studies gather Kentucky students’ input on these issues. Understanding youth perceptions is critical to creating effective mental health interventions, as students experience these issues firsthand. Capturing rural and urban divides is also crucial to create programming applicable to both student groups. Therefore, this study aimed to characterize the similarities and differences between the student-reported perceptions of mental health challenges facing urban versus rural students. Data was collected through four focus groups at urban and rural high schools. Thematic analysis through ATLAS.ti showed that students perceived that peers, family, lack of resources, and high stress influenced mental health in both urban and rural areas. Differences between urban and rural perceptions revolved around social media, community culture, and overdose. These results serve as a foundation for future research assessing youth perceptions to identify an effective intervention to improve Kentucky students’ mental health.
Keywords: adolescent, mental health, Kentucky, rural, urban, youth perceptions