National Evaluation of the Targeted Mental Health in Schools (TMHS) Programme

Dr Miranda Wolpert (Lead Investigator), University College London
Professor Peter Fonagy, University College London
Professor Norah Frederickson, University College London
Professor Jay Belsky, Birkbeck University, London
Dr Neil Humphrey, University of Manchester
Professor Panos Vostanis
Professor Peter Tymms, Durham University
Dr Robert Coe, Durham University
Professor Anthony Fielding, University of Birmingham
Dr Pam Meadows, National Institute of Economic and Social Research


Background and Aims
This was a national evaluation of the Targeted Mental Health in Schools (TaMHS) programme. The specific aims were to explore the impact of this programme and find out which approaches appeared to be the best ways for schools to help children.
Two studies were undertaken: a longitudinal study (2008-11) and a RCT (2009-11). A mixed quantitative and qualitative methodology was involved.

Longitudinal study Sample: 2,687 primary school pupils across 137 schools and 2,311 secondary pupils across 37 secondary schools provided self-reports on their mental health in all three years (2008, 2009 and 2010). Qualitative Interviews were conducted with 11 policy makers, 26 TAMHS staff, 31 school staff 15 parents and 60 pupils about their views and experience of mental health provision in schools. 
Randomised Control Trial sample: 7,330 primary school pupils across 270 schools and 5,907 secondary pupils across 82 secondary schools provided on line self-reports on their mental health in 2009 and 2010. Data was also collected from a smaller number of parents and teachers.

Key findings
Types of mental health support in schools
Schools reported providing a diverse range of approaches that often were locally defined and named.
From this diversity, thirteen categories of mental health provision in schools were identified: 1) Social and emotional development, 2) Creative and physical activity, 3) Information for pupils, 4) Peer support, 5) Behaviour for learning and structural support, 6) Individual therapy, 7) Group therapy, 8) Information for parents, 9) Training for parents, 10) Counselling for parents 11) Consultation for staff, 12) Counselling for staff and 13) Training for staff.
The most strongly endorsed typology in both primary and secondary schools was promoting emotional skills and behaviour management.  A substantial number of schools indicated they had individual therapy and peer support available, with smaller numbers reporting providing information to pupils.  Relatively few schools indicated that they were doing extensive work with either parents or staff. There was little change over the year in the numbers of schools indicating there were implementing the various types of support being offered.
Change in mental health of pupils in TAMHS schools and exploration of which factors were associated with change (longitudinal study)
Pupil self-reports in primary schools indicated decrease in average emotional and behavioural problems over the three years of the evaluation.  Teacher reports in primary schools indicated decrease in both emotional and behavioural problems.  Pupil self-report in secondary school indicated a decrease in emotional problems over the three years of the evaluation.
Giving information to pupils in secondary schools was associated with improvements in outcomes for children with behavioural problems.  Use of the Child Assessment Framework (CAF) was associated with improvement over time in secondary schools.  School reports of good links with CAMHS were associated with improvement over time in secondary schools for children’s behavioural difficulties.
TaMHS provision did have a positive impact for children with behavioural difficulties in primary schools, but no evidence was found of impact on older age groups or for emotional outcomes.

Project website:

Duration: 2008-2011
Funding: £1.5M, Department for Children, Schools and Families                                  

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