G5 Doctoral dissertation (article)
The role of learning difficulties and brief treatment for student well-being (2020)

Parhiala, P. (2020). The role of learning difficulties and brief treatment for student well-being [Doctoral dissertation]. Jyväskylän yliopisto. JYU dissertations, 184. http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-8028-3

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Parhiala, Pauliina

eISBN: 978-951-39-8028-3

Journal or series: JYU dissertations

eISSN: 2489-9003

Publication year: 2020

Number in series: 184

Number of pages in the book: 1 verkkoaineisto (112, 9 sivua, 37 numeroimatonta sivua)

Publisher: Jyväskylän yliopisto

Publication country: Finland

Publication language: English

Persistent website address: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-8028-3

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel


The present research examines student well-being, its link to learning difficulties, and the application of a brief depression treatment at school in Finland. Changes in psychosocial functioning at ages 4, 6, and 9 (social skills, inattention, and externalizing and internalizing problems) were compared between 200 children either with and without dyslexia through the transition into school. The next step was to examine student well-being (N = 1,629) at the end of their basic education using a person-centered approach: profiles of various school motivation and emotional well-being variables and their links to basic academic skills (reading and math) were studied. A further aim was to determine the effectiveness, acceptability and feasibility of early depression treatment at school as part of an intervention study. Interpersonal counseling (IPC) was compared with brief psychosocial support (BPS) in student welfare services, including six weekly sessions and two follow-up meetings. Students from junior high school who were seeking help for depressive symptoms (mild to moderate depression) were included in the study (n = 55). The effectiveness of the two treatments was compared, and adolescents’ and counselors’ satisfaction with the treatment was assessed. Study I indicated that, before school entry, children with dyslexia were already rated as having poorer social skills and more inattentiveness than typical readers. Gender-specific interactions with dyslexia emerged as well. In Study II, five distinct profile groups emerged; three had a flat profile in motivation and well-being but at different high, average or low levels, and two groups had mixed profiles. A comparison with basic academic skills illustrated that low school motivation was linked to poor basic academic skills, whereas the link with emotional well-being was more indirect. Brief treatments at school indicated that both IPC and BPS were effective in reducing depressive symptoms, improving overall functioning and well-being. Adolescents and counselors in both groups were satisfied with the treatments. Thus, the transition into school, on its own, does not seem to increase problems in psychosocial functioning. However, during adolescence the associations between well-being and learning vary. Brief, structured treatments, such as IPC and BPS, are beneficial in treating depression and are feasible in school settings.

Keywords: mental health; mental disorders; children (age groups); young people; pupils; school children; students; psychosocial support; pupil welfare; student welfare; depression (mental disorders); mental disorders; learning difficulties; mental well-being; social skills; school health care; counselling; early intervention; interpersonal psychotherapy; intervention study; longitudinal research; follow-up study; mental disorders; dyslexia; reading disorders; well-being

Free keywords: student well-being; basic academic skills; learning difficulties; brief treatment; depression; longinal study; person-oriented approach; intervention study; student welfare

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2020

Last updated on 2021-07-07 at 21:33