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.
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.