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370 UK Schools Take Part In One Of The Largest Mental Health Studies

It is hoped the trial can provide more evidence to support wellbeing and mental health.

As part of Children’s Mental Health Week, it has been announced that 370 schools across England will take part in a series of mental health and wellbeing trials. The trials will look at the different approaches that children have towards mental health.

At the launch of Children’s Mental Health Week, the Education Secretary, Damian Hinds has explained that hundreds of schoolchildren will learn a range of innovative techniques in a bid to improve mental health.

Speaking at the launch, Damian Hinds said; “We are rolling out significant additional resources to schools to improve mental health provision at an earlier stage through the Government’s Green Paper proposals, including awareness of ‘mental health first aid’ techniques and teams of trained mental health staff to work with and in schools.”

It is thought that this study is one of the largest of its kind in the world. Some of the trials will include mindfulness exercises, breathing techniques and relaxation methods to help children become aware of and regulate their emotions. Pupils will also have sessions with mental health experts too. The study beginning in 2019, will run until 2021 and continues to recruit more schools to join in. It is hoped it will offer robust evidence for what works best for the mental health and wellbeing of schoolchildren.

Mental Health Trials

The study will examine five different approaches to mental wellbeing, which include two approaches that seek to increase awareness in secondary schools. One approach will be through information sessions led by teachers or specialist instructors. Children will also have access to a set of tools which can increase understanding of mental health.

The other three approaches will include techniques of recognising the importance of support networks, mindfulness practice as well as breathing and relaxation techniques.

Mental Health In The Care System

As well as the 370 schools that are taking part, Damian Hinds also announced that nine areas across England would begin trialling high-quality mental health assessments. This will be for young people who are entering the care system. It is hoped this can help young people in care get the support they need at a time when they are more vulnerable.

The study comes after a pilot study for mental health assessment led by the Anna Freud Centre. It comes after an estimated half of all children in care meet the criteria for a possible mental health disorder. The study, complete with £1 million funding, will help to identify the wellbeing needs for children in care.

Dr Jessica Deighton from the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families explains; “This world-leading research which, we at the Anna Freud Centre are proud to be leading, will provide that and has the potential to transform mental health promotion in schools across England. We also need to better identify the mental health needs of the most vulnerable children in society, particularly children in the care system, and an improved mental health framework will greatly help.”

It is hoped that the study and follow on measures from the trials will ensure that every child has the tools they need to thrive while growing up and the ability to better handle any challenges they may face.

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