A Brief Review of “An Exploratory Study on Mental Health and Attitude Towards Psychotherapy Among Grown Homeschoolers and Homeschooling Parents” by Dedeaux 
Brian D. Ray
National Home Education Research Institute, Salem, Oregon, USA
Dedeaux (2012) purposed to provide marriage and family therapists with current and accurate information about homeschoolers in the United States in order to provide culturally appropriate mental health treatment for homeschoolers. She explained that she recognized that there is significant diversity and complexity amongst the homeschooling community and its subcultures. With that in mind, the researcher planned “… to explore the demographics of grown homeschoolers and parents of homeschoolers in the United States, measure their mental health characteristics, including levels of depression, anxiety, overall happiness, prioritization of character strengths, and to understand their attitude towards seeking psychotherapy” (p. 6).
She posited that the information gathered from her study would benefit marriage and family therapists by providing information to help individualize treatment to better serve this particular subset of society. Dedeaux also aimed to help those related to homeschooling be better served “… by gaining access to mental health care that provides culturally-appropriate and empathetic treatment” (p. 6). Two of the research questions follow: “What are the mental health characteristics of grown homeschoolers and parents of homeschoolers in the United States? … What is the general attitude towards seeking professional psychotherapy of grown homeschoolers and parents of homeschoolers in the United States?”
The subjects of the study were comprised of 1,052 participants between the ages of 18 and 66 who were either a person homeschooled as a minor, or who was a homeschooling parent. They were from a wide range of ethnicities and religious backgrounds, household incomes, and highest level of formal educational attainment. They were or had been involved in homeschooling for a wide range of reasons. The subjects lived in 46 states.
The investigator came to many conclusions. Here is the first: “Homeschoolers appear to have fewer depressive symptoms than the general population” (p. 86). And the second follows: “Homeschoolers who spent more time with other homeschoolers reported fewer depressive symptoms” (p. 86).
Digging further, she found the following: “Grown homeschoolers and homeschooling parents were found to have overall happiness levels that mirror the general population. Unschoolers had a higher mean score on the OHQ [than others in the study], showing more indicators of happiness. Individuals who had prior therapeutic treatment had slightly higher levels of happiness …” (p. 87).
Other findings popped up that will likely not surprise researchers who know well the homeschooling community and homeschoolers. For example, consider the following:
When looking at rankings of character strengths, it was found that homeschoolers and unschoolers as a group did not mirror the general population, and had different rankings when compared to each other. ….. For example, both groups of homeschoolers rank “love of learning” in their top five values, yet it does not appear at all in the top five for the general US population. (p. 88)
The researcher found the following regarding anxiety: “Overall, homeschoolers were found to have mean scores far below the clinical cut-off of 39-40. For individuals who had been homeschooled as children, anxiety decreased with age” (p. 87), and “… as a group homeschoolers exhibit less anxiety than the general population …” (p. 89).
Finally, this study “… did not reveal any levels of depression or anxiety that appear to have a clinically significant pattern across this population. However, all of the elements that were measured point to a fairly positive attitude toward seeking therapy among homeschoolers” (p. 90).
This study on the mental health of adults who were home educated and homeschooling parents is apparently the first of its kind. The researcher was thorough, well-planned, and careful to state the limitations of her study.
In the end, Dedeaux found that those she studied had good mental health compared to the general population. Dedeaux also noted that her “… study found that many beliefs held by the general public as well as published materials about homeschooling are inaccurate, For example, this study finds homeschoolers to be very involved with other people in the community” (p. 93). Notably, the researcher concluded the following: “Anxiety and depression levels were found to be below the general population’s, and homeschoolers were found to be generally happy” compared to the U.S. population at large.
Keywords: homeschoolers, homeschooling, psychotherapy, parents, mental health
Dedeaux, Roya J. (2012). An exploratory study on mental health and attitude towards psychotherapy among grown homeschoolers and homeschooling parents. Master’s thesis (Master of Science), California State University, Long Beach.
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