Effectiveness of school-based mental health services

Broad evidence now supports the potential of school-based services delivered by teachers and other school-based professionals to help reduce mental health problems in elementary-aged children | Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry | via ScienceDaily


Teachers and other school-based professionals can help reduce children’s mental health problems in elementary-aged children, reports a study published in the March 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP).

The findings are based on a meta-analysis of 43 controlled trials that collectively had almost 50,000 elementary-aged children participate in school-based mental health services. The researchers examined the overall effectiveness of school-based mental health services, as well as the relative effectiveness of various school-based intervention models that differed according to treatment target, format, and intensity.

In addition to supporting the overall effectiveness of school-based mental health care, follow-up analyses revealed that school-based services targeting child behavior problems were particularly effective, relative to services targeting child attention problems, mood and anxiety problems, or substance use. Moreover, treatments that were implemented multiple times per week were more than twice as effective as treatments that were only implemented on a weekly (or less) basis.

Full story at ScienceDaily

Full reference: Sanchez, A. L. et al. | The Effectiveness of School-Based Mental Health Services for Elementary-Aged Children: A Meta-Analysis |  Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry | 2018; 57 (3): 153


‘Depression education’ effective for some teens

In an assessment of their ‘depression literacy’ program, which has already been taught to tens of thousands, researchers say the Adolescent Depression Awareness Program achieved its intended effect of encouraging many teenagers to speak up and seek adult help for themselves or a peer. | ScienceDaily | American Journal of Public Health

Objectives. To determine the effectiveness of a universal school-based depression education program.

Methods. In 2012–2015, we matched 6679 students from 66 secondary schools into pairs by state (Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Oklahoma) and randomized to the Adolescent Depression Awareness Program (ADAP; n = 3681) or to a waitlist control condition (n = 2998). Trained teachers delivered ADAP as part of the health education curriculum to students aged 14 to 15 years. The primary outcome was depression literacy. Secondary outcomes included mental health stigma and, in a subset of the sample, the receipt of mental health services. Follow-up was at 4 months.

Results. ADAP resulted in significantly higher levels of depression literacy among participating students than did waitlist controls, after adjusting for pretest assessment depression literacy (P < .001). Overall, ADAP did not significantly affect stigma (P = .1). After ADAP, students approached 46% of teachers with concerns about themselves or others. Of students who reported the need for depression treatment, 44% received treatment within 4 months of ADAP implementation.

Conclusions. ADAP is an effective public health intervention for improving depression literacy among students.

Read more at ScienceDaily

Full reference: Swartz, K. et al. | School-Based Curriculum to Improve Depression Literacy Among US Secondary School Students: A Randomized Effectiveness Trial | American Journal of Public Health |  2017; 107 (12): 1970

Transforming children and young people’s mental health

Ways for schools and colleges to support pupils’ mental health are set out in a green paper, as well as plans for new mental health support teams.

The government has published proposals to improve mental health support for children and young people in England. Over £300 million has been made available to fund them.

The government is asking people for their views on the planned measures, which are set out in a green paper. The measures include:

  • encouraging every school and college to have a ‘designated senior mental health lead’
  • setting up mental health support teams working with schools, to give children and young people earlier access to services
  • piloting a 4-week waiting time for NHS children and young people’s mental health services

Other proposals in the green paper include:

  • a new working group to look at mental health support for 16 to 25-year-olds
  • a report by the Chief Medical Officer on the impact that technology has on children and young people’s mental health, to be produced in 2018

The consultation on the green paper will run for 13 weeks until 2 March 2018.

Full document: Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision: a green paper

This short video describes the main proposals in the green paper.

New research shows the benefit of bullying interventions in schools

Study explores the long-term social and economic impact of effective bullying interventions implemented in primary schools.


MQ: Transforming Mental Health have published a report which finds that the implementation of evidence-based school bullying interventions could prevent over 24,000 cases of bullying each year.  This would significantly improve the mental health of thousands of young people, and save the UK economy £348 million per year group. This represents a  return on investment for £146 for every £1 invested in implementing a proven model.

The economic model uses data from the 1958 Birth Cohort on outcomes associated with childhood bullying to estimate the potential short- and long-term benefits of effective anti-bullying interventions in schools.

The report highlights that with such clear evidence pointing to the link between bullying and mental illness, it’s vital that schools receive support from both the government and public funding to rollout evidence-based schemes to tackle it.

Full report: The Economic Case for Prevention in Young People’s Mental Health: Bullying Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) | London School of Economics and Political Science | MQ: Transforming Mental Health

Education & young people’s mental health

The House of Commons Education and Health Committees have published Children and young  people’s mental health—the role of education: Government Response to the First Joint Report of the Education and Health Committees of Session 2016–17.  This document sets out the Government’s response to the inquiry on the role of education in children and young people’s mental health.

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


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

PHE launches Rise Above for Schools programme

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

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