2014 HARO Survey of Homeschool Alumni, Installment Eight: Mental Health

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Installment Eight of the 2014 HARO Survey examines aspects of respondents’ mental health histories, including the mental health conditions they have had, their families’ attitudes towards mental health, and the prevalence of self-injury and substance abuse.

In summary, survey responses to questions about mental health showed that around half of respondents had visited a therapist and around half had experienced mental illness, a figure roughly comparable with that of the general population. Mood disorders appeared to be considerably more common among the survey respondents than in the general population, affecting around 40% of respondents. About half of respondents reported that their parent or caregiver had experienced mental illness; attitudes towards mental illness in respondents’ families of origin tended to ignore it or favor religious and/or supernatural explanations, and respondents obtained very little treatment—even faith-based treatment—for their mental health conditions while being homeschooled. Many respondents felt, however, that their caregivers would be receptive to education about mental health issues. Self-injury was a struggle for more than one quarter of respondents and more than two out of five had struggled with suicidal thoughts. Nearly one in ten had attempted suicide. The rates of mood disorders and suicide attempts may be attributable to the fact that the respondents skewed young and female.


About the Survey

In 2014, HARO, the parent organization of Homeschoolers Anonymous, conducted a survey of adult alumni of the modern Christian homeschool movement in consultation with the Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE). The purpose of this survey was to investigate the life experiences of Christian homeschool alumni by collecting information that past surveys of homeschool alumni had not. The data collected will be used to advocate for the interests of current and future homeschooled children.

The survey, written by HARO Executive Director R.L. Stollar, was developed over a span of 9 months. Work on the survey began on November 24, 2013 and it was opened to the public on August 18, 2014. A set of approximately 90 initial questions were first created. These questions were then tested, modified, and re‐tested repeatedly over a span of 6 months to create the survey questions that were on the final version. The questions were specifically run by a diverse group of people, including Christians and non‐Christians, conservatives, moderates, and liberals, homeschoolers and unschoolers, and so forth. The final version of the survey featured questions on demographics, academic school experiences, non‐academic school experiences, food and health, religion, present and future personal life plans, sexuality, mental health, and abuse.

The survey, conducted online through SurveyMonkey, was estimated to take respondents 30 minutes to complete. It was first promoted through the homeschool abuse survivor community, from which it spread across the country through online social networks (primarily Facebook). Survey respondents were required to affirm that they were 18 years old or older, had been homeschooled for at least 7 years, were homeschooled in an environment which was classifiable as Christian (including Christian‐influenced new religious movements), and were taking the survey through completion for the first time. A total of 6,249 people started the survey; 3,702 respondents completed the survey before it closed on September 15, 2014. Only the completed responses were recorded and analyzed.

Data analysis was generously provided by the amazing team over at the Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE). HARO is extraordinarily grateful to CRHE for donating an immense amount of their time and energy to analyzing the survey data.

View and download other installments of the survey here: Installment One | Installment Two | Installment Three | Installment Four | Installment Five | Installment Six | Installment Seven | Installment Eight | Installment Nine.

To download the eighth installment of results from HARO’s survey, click the link below:

A Complex Picture: Results of the 2014 Survey of Adult Alumni of the Modern Christian Homeschool Movement, Installment Eight


Author: The HARO Team