Earlier school start times may increase risk of adolescent depression and anxiety

Teenagers with school starting times before 8:30 a.m. may be at particular risk of experiencing depression and anxiety due to compromised sleep quality, according to a recent study. | Sleep Health 2017 | story via ScienceDaily

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The findings of this study provide additional evidence in the debate over how school start times impact adolescent health.  The study,  published in the journal Sleep Health found that Teenagers who start school before 8:30 a.m. are at higher risk of depression and anxiety, even if they’re doing everything else right to get a good night’s sleep.

The authors used an online tool to collect data from 197 students across the USA between the ages of 14 and 17. All children and parents completed a baseline survey that included questions about the child’s level of sleep hygiene, family socioeconomic status,  and their school start times. They were separated into two groups: those who started school before 8:30 a.m. and those who started after 8:30 a.m.

Over a period of seven days, the students were instructed to keep a sleep diary, in which they reported specifically on their daily sleep hygiene, levels of sleep quality and duration, and their depressive/anxiety symptoms.

The results showed that good baseline sleep hygiene was directly associated with lower average daily depressive/anxiety symptoms across all students, and the levels were even lower in students with school start times after 8:30. However, students with good baseline sleep hygiene and earlier school start times had higher average daily depressive/anxiety symptoms.

Link to the research:  Peltz, J. S. et al. A process-oriented model linking adolescents’ sleep hygiene and psychological functioning: the moderating role of school start times  Sleep Health

Full story at ScienceDaily

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PHE launches Rise Above for Schools programme

New schools programme to equip young people with coping strategies for modern life | PHE

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Image source: VFS Digital Design – Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Dynamic new resources for teachers will help build crucial life-skills for young people to boost their resilience and improve their mental health and wellbeing, as part of a new evidence-based programme for schools unveiled by Public Health England (PHE).

With around 1 in 5 young people experiencing cyberbullying and 1 in 3 reporting that their body was “too fat”, pupils aged between 11 and 16 will be taught how to cope with some of modern life’s most challenging issues, equipping young people with resilience skills that will help them throughout adulthood.

PHE has developed a series of new resources for secondary school teachers to use in their lesson plans as part of the Rise Above for Schools programme. The resources will help teachers to engage pupils with coping strategies about ‘traditional’ health issues, like smoking and alcohol, while also addressing some of the most challenging pressures young people face today in an ‘always on’ social media generation.

Read the full press release here

School exclusion ‘leads to long-term mental health problems’

Children who are excluded from school are more vulnerable to long-term psychiatric problems and psychological distress | OnMedica

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Researchers studied responses from more than 5,000 children, parents and teachers which were taken from child and adolescent mental health surveys collected by the Office for National Statistics on behalf of the Department of Health.

They found a “bi-directional association” between psychological distress and exclusion. Children with psychological distress were more likely to be excluded but the study suggests that their exclusion acted as a predictor of increased psychological distress three years later on.

The team confirmed that more children with conditions such as ADHD, depression, anxiety and those on the autism spectrum were more likely to be excluded.

It also found that there were more children with mental health disorders among those who had been excluded than those who had not.

Programs that teach emotional intelligence in schools have lasting impact

Social and emotional learning programs for youth not only immediately improve mental health, social skills, and learning outcomes but also continue to benefit children years later | ScienceDaily

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Social-emotional learning teaches children to recognize and understand their emotions, feel empathy, make decisions and build and maintain relationships. Previous research has shown that incorporating these programs into the classroom improves learning outcomes and reduces anxiety and behavioural problems among students. Some schools have incorporated social-emotional learning programs — like MindUP and Roots of Empathy — into classrooms while other school systems, including the new B.C. curriculum, embrace it more systemically.

The new study analyzed results from 82 different programs involving more than 97,000 students from kindergarten to middle school in the U.S., Europe and the U.K. where the effects were assessed at least six months after the programs completed. The researchers found that social-emotional learning continued to have positive effects in the classroom but was also connected to longer-term positive outcomes.

Students who participated in programs graduated from college at a rate 11 per cent higher than peers who did not. Their high school graduation rate was six per cent higher. Drug use and behaviour problems were six per cent lower for program participants, arrest rates 19 per cent lower, and diagnoses of mental health disorders 13.5 per cent lower.

The role of family and school-level factors in bullying and cyberbullying

This UK study aims to investigate student-level and school-level characteristics of those who become involved in bullying and cyberbullying behaviours as victims or perpetrators | BMC Pediatrics

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Background: Bullying and cyberbullying are common phenomena in schools. These negative behaviours can have a significant impact on the health and particularly mental health of those involved in such behaviours, both as victims and as bullies.

Conclusions: Bullying victimization and cyberbullying prevalence vary across school type and school quality, supporting the hypothesis that organisational/management factors within the school may have an impact on students’ behaviour. These findings will inform future longitudinal research investigating which school factors and processes promote or prevent bullying and cyberbullying behaviours.

Full reference: Leonardo B. et al. (2017) The role of family and school-level factors in bullying and cyberbullying: a cross-sectional study. BMC Pediatrics. Published: 11 July 2017

Secondary school staff get mental health ‘first aid’ training

£200,000 funding to help teachers understand and identify mental health issues in children | DoH

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From June 2017, teachers in secondary schools around the country will take part in a new training programme to help them identify and respond to early signs of mental health issues in children.

The programme, backed in the first year by £200,000 in government funding, and delivered by the social enterprise Mental Health First Aid, will start with 1,000 staff and extend in years 2 and 3 to cover every secondary school in England. They will receive practical advice on how to deal with issues such as depression and anxiety, suicide and psychosis, self-harm, and eating disorders.

They will also be invited to become ‘first aid champions’, sharing their knowledge and experiences across schools and communities to raise awareness and break down stigma and discrimination.

Read the full news story here

Emotional wellbeing of young people

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Public Health England has carried out a thematic analysis of the recent Health Behaviour in School Age Children (HSBC) survey exploring the rising trend in poorer emotional wellbeing of young people.

The reports cover self-harm; cyberbullying and the emotional wellbeing of adolescent girls.  They examine the data and explore what protective factors may exist in a young person’s life which may be linked to their mental health outcomes, ranging from personal attributes, family, school, peer and wider community context.

Public Health England has also produced a summary of data from the most recent HBSC survey.

Te reports can be downloaded below: