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:

Award scheme recognises schools building better mental health

An NCB survey in 2016 showed the rising number of pupils suffering from mental health issues – now NCB is developing a Wellbeing Award for Schools.

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From September 2017, a new Wellbeing Award for Schools, presented by the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) and Optimus Education Ltd (part of Prospects Services Group), will recognise outstanding work being done to promote mental health and wellbeing within school communities across England.

This new award will recognise schools that embed a culture which values the happiness and emotional welfare of all its pupils. Both the Department for Education and Ofsted have supported this approach, stressing that promoting good mental health is the responsibility of all members of a school community: its staff and governors, parents and pupils, and partner organisations beyond the school gates.

The Wellbeing Award supports schools to create a culture in which mental health can thrive, helping them to:

  • Show the school’s commitment to promoting wellbeing as part of day-to-day school life
  • Develop a whole school strategy for improving the wellbeing of pupils
  • Attract and retain high-quality staff.

Full details available here

School-Based Mindfulness Program and Depression in Adolescents

This study examined moderators of the effects of a universal school-based mindfulness program on adolescents’ depressive symptoms.

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Based on theory and previous research, we identified the following potential moderators:

  1. severity of symptoms of depression at baseline
  2. gender
  3. age
  4. school track.

The study uses a pooled dataset from two consecutive randomized controlled trials in adolescents (13–18 years) in secondary schools in Belgium.

We found no moderation effects of gender, age, and school track. Six months after the training, we found a marginally significant moderation effect for severity of symptoms of depression at baseline with greater decrease in symptoms for students with high levels of depression. The general absence of differential intervention effects for gender, age, and school track supports the broad scope of the school-based mindfulness group intervention.

Full reference: der Gucht, K.V. et al. (2017) Potential Moderators of the Effects of a School-Based Mindfulness Program on Symptoms of Depression in Adolescents. Mindfulness. 8(797)