Enhancing our understanding: stammering & mental health

This Mental Health Awareness Week, we wanted to share with you some of the work we’re doing to advance our understanding of the relationship between stammering and mental health.

In February, we released the findings of our joint YouGov Poll with STAMMA, showing that over a fifth of Britons feel comfortable with people making jokes about stammering. This year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is Kindness, and we know from our work with children and young people who stammer, that Kindness really does matter. Kindness can make all the difference when having to speak in front of the class or join a video-call. 

Sadly, research shows us that children who stammer are more likely to be bullied and to experience social rejection from their peers. We also know that experiencing bullying can have longer-term implications for mental health; bullying in childhood has been associated with increased anxiety.

Determining whether children and young people are at increased risk of poorer mental health outcomes will help ensure children get the support they need. There has been much research into the relationship between stammering and anxiety over the years, with many adult studies suggesting that adults who stammer are more likely to experience elevated anxiety than their non-stammering peers. However, the findings from studies investigating mental health outcomes in children and young people who stammer have been more varied. 

Whether children who stammer are more likely to experience heightened anxiety or not, it is important that we enhance our understanding of social, emotional and mental health in children who stammer so that we can ensure the most evidence-based, effective support is available. Children who stammer are not all the same – they are not one homogenous group of individuals. Yet, understanding and identifying factors that may put an individual at risk of adverse mental health is key to ensuring person-centred care. 

That’s why, as part of my PhD research, I’m inviting children who stammer and their families to take part in an online research study. The online questionnaire only takes 20-minutes and children receive a book token for taking part. Improving our understanding of stammering will help us to help support you, so if you would like to take part, just click the link below.

We’ll be keeping you up to date on the findings from my PhD research, so do keep an eye on the blog too!

Ria Bernard is a PhD student at UCL, collaboratively funded by ASC and ESRC.

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