Sarah Osman

Postgraduate Researcher

About

Sarah Osman is a Postgraduate Researcher in the School of Psychology.

Thesis title

Violent thugs or vulnerable youth? Reshaping how we think of gang members: An examination into their emotional and mental health needs

Research interests

Sarah's research interests centre on how different levels of gang involvement and duration of gang membership can impact on the behavioural, emotional, and psychological development of youth participating in gang activity. It is not clear whether individuals who become gang-involved have pre-existing mental health difficulties or whether gang membership leads to a range of mental health problems. 

Therefore, through her PhD, she aims to examine the effects of gang membership on mental health, negative emotionality, victimisation, and violence over time. Sarah is also particularly interested in how gang members morally disengage from the harmful conduct they engage in, trauma-induced perpetration due to committing violent acts, and gang desistence through using gang research to encourage systemic practice between educational, local authority, mental health, and criminal justice agencies.  

Teaching

  • SP500 Psychology Statistics and Practical  

Supervision

Professional

Funding

  • Social Sciences Faculty PhD Support Top-Up Fund: £400
  • University of Kent 50th Anniversary Research Scholarship 

Publications

  • Beecham, J., Pearce, P., & Osman, S. (2017). Cost-effectiveness of school-based humanistic counselling for psychological distress in young people: Pilot randomized controlled trial. Manuscript submitted for publication
  • Osman, S., & Wood, J. (2016). Gang membership, mental ill health and negative emotionality: A systematic review of the literature. Manuscript submitted for publication.
  • Pearce, P., Sewell, R., Cooper, M., Osman, S., Fugard, J. B., & Pybis, J. (2016). Effectiveness of school-based humanistic counselling for psychological distress in young people: Pilot randomized controlled trial with follow-up in an ethnically diverse sample. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research & Practice, 90, 138-155. doi: 0.1111/papt.12102
  • Vasquez, E. A., Osman, S., & Wood, J. (2012). Rumination and the displacement of aggression in United Kingdom gang-affiliated youth. Aggressive Behaviour, 38, 89-97. doi: 10.1002/ab.20419

Conference presentations

  • Osman, S., & Wood, J. (2017). Is it just a case of 'Mad and Bad'? A case study approach to gang membership and mental ill health. The Investigator: Investigating Gangs. Hitchin, United Kingdom.
  • Osman S., & Wood, J. (2017). Gang membership, mental ill health and negative emotionality: A systematic review of the literature. International Association of Forensic Mental Health Services Conference, Split, Croatia. 
  • Pearce, P., Fugard, A., & Osman, S. (2014). The Align Project: Educational Outcomes from a Randomised Controlled Trial of Person Centred, School Based Counselling. Presented at the annual meeting for the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, Nottingham, United Kingdom.
  • Pearce, P., Sewell, R., & Osman, S. (2013). The Align Project: A Randomised Controlled Trial of Person Centred, School Based Counselling. Presented at the annual meeting for the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, Birmingham, United Kingdom.
  • Vasquez, E. A., & Osman, S. (2010). Gangs, rumination, and the displacement of aggressive behaviours. Paper presented at the annual meeting for the Forensic Division of Psychology, Canterbury, Kent, United Kingdom.

Research posters

  • Osman, S., & Wood, J. (2017). The stigma of mental ill health among gang-affiliated youth. Poster presented at ESRC Seminar Series: Youth Mental Health.
  • Osman, S., & Wood, J. (2016). Gang membership, mental ill health, victimization, and violence: A systematic review. Poster presented at Postgraduate Research Symposium, University of Kent.

Grants and Awards

TBATBATBA

Publications

Article

  • Frisby-Osman, S., & Wood, J. (2020). Rethinking how we view gang members: An examination into affective, behavioral, and mental health predictors of UK gang-involved youth. Youth Justice, Online. doi:10.1177/1473225419893779
    Mental health difficulties, conduct problems, and emotional maladjustment predict a range of negative outcomes, and this may include gang involvement. However, few studies have examined how behavioral, mental health, socio-cognitive, and emotional factors all relate to adolescent gang involvement. This study examined 91 adolescents to compare non-gang and gang-involved youth on their conduct problems, emotional distress, guilt proneness, anxiety and depression, and use of moral disengagement and rumination. Analyses revealed that gang-involved youth had higher levels of anxiety, depression, moral disengagement, and rumination. Gang-involved youth also had higher levels of conduct disorder and exposure to violence, but they did not differ from non-gang youth on levels of emotional distress and guilt proneness. Discriminant function analysis further showed that conduct problems, moral disengagement, and rumination were the most important predictors of gang involvement. Discussion focuses on how intervention and prevention efforts to tackle gang involvement need to consider the mental health and behavioral needs of gang-involved youth. Further research is also needed to build an evidence-base that identifies the cause/effect relationship between mental health and gang involvement to inform best practice when tackling gang membership.
  • Osman, S., & Wood, J. (2018). Gang membership, Mental Illness, and Negative Emotionality: A Systematic Review of the Literature. International Journal of Forensic Mental Health, 17, 223-246. doi:10.1080/14999013.2018.1468366
    Gang-related violence poses detrimental consequences worldwide. Gang members suffer a range of adverse experiences, often as victims who then transition to adolescence and early adulthood as offenders. Such experiences may negatively affect their mental health. Yet, the relationship between gang membership and mental illness is, to date, not well understood. This systematic review synthesized the literature on gang member’s mental health and emotions. A two-part search strategy of electronic and hand searches, dated from: January 1980 – January 2017, was conducted. A total of n = 306 peer papers were included in a preliminary scoping review, of which n = 23, met the inclusion criteria and study outcomes. Narrative synthesis revealed how gang members may be at increased risk of suffering from mental illnesses and negative emotions, such as anger and rumination. Yet, synthesis showed that understanding remains limited regarding gang members’ experience of self-conscious emotions and how such emotions might link to persistent offending patterns and violence. The results suggest gang members may benefit from clinically tailored interventions to support their mental and emotional health. Clinical and research implications are discussed to inform future empirical, intervention, and prevention work with gang members and individuals at risk of gang involvement.

Conference or workshop item

  • Osman, S., & Wood, J. (2017). Interventions to tackle stigma and discrimination in relation to youth mental health. In ESRC Seminar. Nottingham.
  • Osman, S., & Wood, J. (2017). Is It Just A Case Of MAD and BAD?. In Investigator Conference. Hitchin, Hertfordshire.
  • Osman, S., & Wood, J. (2017). The effects of gang membership on self-conscious emotions, mental ill health, victimisation and violence: A systematic review of the literature. In International Association of Forensic Mental Health Services (IAFMHS) Conference. Croatia.

Forthcoming

  • Frisby-Osman, S. (2019). Gang members or vulnerable youth? Reshaping how we think of gang-involved youth: An examination into their emotional and mental health needs.
    Mental health difficulties, conduct problems, and emotional maladjustment predict a range of negative outcomes, and this may include gang membership. However, few studies have examined how behavioral, emotional, mental health, and socio-cognitive factors all relate to adolescent gang involvement. Consequently, the relationship between gang membership and a range of psychological constructs is, to date, not well understood. The research described in this thesis sought to investigate, and develop further understanding of, youth gang members' affective and mental health experiences, their behavioral outcomes, and engagement of socio-cognitive processes. A systematic review on gang members' mental health and emotions via narrative synthesis revealed how gang members may be at increased risk of suffering from mental illnesses and negative emotions, such as anger and rumination. Utilizing a mixed-methods design, a qualitative case study and longitudinal study with two-time points were conducted to develop an understanding of the psychological processes related to gang involvement. Pattern-matching techniques and mixed analyses of variance (ANOVA) revealed that gang-involved participants suffered from higher levels of psychological distress and reported higher levels of depression, posttraumatic stress symptoms, moral disengagement, and rumination. Gang-involved youth also had higher levels of conduct disorder and exposure to violence, but they did not differ from non-gang youth on levels of emotional distress and feelings of guilt. The results suggest gang members may benefit from clinically tailored interventions to support their emotional, mental, and socio-cognitive needs. Implications regarding prevention and intervention efforts to tackle the effects of gang involvement, especially concerning the mental ill health and emotional well-being of gang members, are discussed.
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