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Research Case studies

Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools


Our work

One in ten young people has some form of diagnosable mental health condition and there is evidence that schools and colleges play a vital role in identifying needs and referring children onto specialist services where this is required (DfE, DoH, 2017). The Centre was established in 2017 to support schools and colleges to develop evidence-based institutional-wide approaches to support the mental health of children and young people. The Centre is a partnership between the Carnegie School of Education and the social enterprise Minds Ahead. The Centre has developed programmes of professional development for school and pastoral leaders and teachers and these are delivered nationally. Additionally, the Centre has developed a research informed quality framework to support schools and colleges in developing high quality mental health provision. 150 schools and colleges in the United Kingdom have adopted this framework and the framework has been adopted in schools and colleges in Dubai, New Zealand and Australia.

The work of the Centre is leading to improvements in the quality of institutional-wide mental health provision in schools and colleges both nationally and internationally.

The Centre has led the following research projects:

  • 2017-18: Funded research project by The Youth Sport Trust
  • Project title: Active in Mind

    Project funding: £17,000

    This project focused on training 250 peer mentors in schools and colleges across England to work with 750 young people with mental health needs using physical activity to promote social, emotional and physical health. This project led to improvements in mental health literacy and well-being for peer mentors and the mentees who they supported.

  • 2017-18: Funded research by Cambridge United Football Club
  • Project title: Cambridge United Community Trust Mental Health Project

    Project funding: £1900

    This project focused on delivering mental health, resilience and well-being training to 650 12-14 year old students (Year 8 and 9) in Cambridge schools. This was a pioneering project in the field of mental health, resilience and well-being training for young people. The combination of the social power of football with the immensely important issue of young people’s mental health made this project innovative. The project led to statistically significant improvements in young people’s mental health literacy.

  • 2017-18: Funded research by HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England
  • Project title: Improving postgraduate research student wellbeing by increasing mental health literacy and social support in collaboration with the University of Portsmouth

    Project funding allocated to the Centre: £15,000

    This research is on-going.

Our impact

The Centre has received funding from the Department for Education to carry out research on the mental health of teachers. This led to the production of national actionable guidance for senior leaders in schools to support them in reducing teacher workload. This research project was jointly conducted with Teamworks Teaching School Alliance in Calderdale. To understand the extent of the issues the Centre conducted research on 775 teachers in 2018. Data from this research indicate that 54 % reported poor mental health and 52% reported that their illness had been identified by a General Practitioner. Qualitative data were also collected from teacher interviews which demonstrated that significant workload and panoptic styles of surveillance operate within schools, resulting in a lack of teacher autonomy. The outcomes of this research informed the development of the national guidance.

The Centre is currently producing four books on mental health in schools.

Impact activities

  • October 2017: Television interview, Calendar News
  • December 2017: Invited keynote presentation, Teamworks Teaching School Alliance,
  • Primary Head Teachers Conference
  • January 2018: Invited talk and panel appearance, Diverse Educators conference
  • Numerous articles in local and national newspapers
  • Numerous radio interviews
  • December 2017: Invited talk, University of Dundee
  • March 2018: Invited talk, University of Portsmouth
  • March 2018: Invited talk, University of Derby
  • February 2018: Invited member of The All-PartyParliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood. 4 reports written on mental health to advise the government of policy./li>
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