kids-schoolLaunched to coincide with World Mental Health Day, the toolkit – commissioned by Public Health England (PHE) and led by the Evidence-Based Practice Unit of the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families – provides schools with information about a range of psychometrically sound and effective wellbeing instruments. It also provides details about how to use them, with real-life examples from schools that have used the measures.

Half of all diagnosable mental health disorders established by the age of 14. Schools and college environments are a vital part of children and young people’s support system and are increasingly recognised as key sites to help promote pupil mental wellbeing. But up until now, school teams and support staff have not had clear information about robust, evidence-based tools to help them measure and monitor wellbeing.

Dr Jessica Deighton led the development of the toolkit in collaboration with the Child Outcomes Research Consortium and Common Room. “Our ambition is that all schools and colleges are able to embed measurement systems that help them review the mental health and wellbeing needs of their students,” she said. “The toolkit will also help schools assess whether their approaches to mental health are having a positive impact.”

Routine measurement of mental wellbeing in educational settings means that schools and colleges have a profile of the potential strengths and difficulties in their student population and also means that any potential improvements year-on-year resulting from school or college-based support are automatically captured.

The toolkit aims to support schools and pastoral staff to address and consider the data and tools they can draw on to understand, define and measure pupil mental wellbeing on a more formal basis. Such efforts taken to promote the physical and mental health of the student population creates a virtuous circle, reinforcing attainment and achievement that in turn improves student wellbeing, enabling students to thrive and achieve their full potential.

Eustace de Sousa, national lead for children, young people and families at PHE, said: “Recent evidence shows that more young people are reporting concerns about their mental health affecting their studies. This toolkit is a timely reminder of the important contribution that school and college staff have, alongside parents and carers, in identifying and responding early to the mental health needs of children and young people. By investing early, children and young people will reap the benefits of better health and education outcomes.”

Minister of State for Vulnerable Children and Families, Edward Timpson said: “Growing up in today’s world can be tough. From negative comments on social media to pressures to look a certain way, the wellbeing of young people is at risk. That's why we want teachers to be able to spot the signs that their pupils are having difficult thoughts or feelings and feel confident about supporting them. This toolkit can help schools to monitor the wellbeing of their pupils and builds on the work we are already doing to create better links between schools and children’s mental health services.”

Dr Jessica Deighton has blogged previously for MHT on how fostering resilience in children and young people is being recognised as an important public health goal. []