Evaluation of School Mental Health Promotion

Nisha Dogra

Sarah Cruddas

Michelle O’Reilly

Panos Vostanis


Duration: 2013-2014

Funding:  Children’s Research Fund


The study aims will address the following research questions:

a)            Can young people’s mental health awareness be enhanced by school-based psycho educational interventions which focus on staying healthy and challenging stigma?

b)            Is there a difference between two types of interventions (delivered by mental health practitioners to pupils; and delivered by teachers, following training, to pupils) on young people’s knowledge, understanding and attitudes towards mental health?

The project will involve representative secondary schools across the Leicester Educational Authorities, with the strategic objective of forming long-term links between schools and the child mental health service that will be of benefit to children and young people beyond the timescale of this project.

Pupils of year 8 (age 13 years) will constitute the target young population. This age group was selected for both developmental (cognitive capacity and relatively early in adolescence) and pragmatic reasons (the only secondary school year without substantial exam requirements). Secondary schools will be selected based on size, location, socioeconomic deprivation (measured by free school meals), exam results, and ethnic constitution. Year 8 pupils from each school will be divided into three groups, containing whole form classes. The form classes will be randomised to receive learning by one of the two methods. The secondary schools approached so far have an average size of 1,000 pupils, or 170 pupils in year 8. An approximate number of three participating schools will generate a sample of 340-510 pupils.

Two education methods will be used:

  1. Delivered by mental health practitioners to pupils.
  2. Delivered by teachers, following training by mental health practitioners and development of resources, to pupils.

Developmentally sensitive quantitative and qualitative measures will be used to assess pupils’ understanding, knowledge and attitudes towards mental health; and their experience of the learning interventions:

• A computer-based quiz, using a well validated questionnaire (Pinfold et al, 2003).  A computer-based quiz will be easier to analyse and help to avoid testing fatigue, by making the assessment more fun for the pupils. This will be completed before and immediately after the intervention, and after four months. The quantitative measure will be completed by the pupils before and after the training.

• Interviews with a sub-sample of pupils who participated in each of the learning interventions, at four-month follow-up.

• Interviews with a sub-sample of teachers.

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