U.K. Launches One of The Largest Mental Health Studies in The World

In honor of Children’s Mental Health Week (Feb. 4-10), United Kingdom Secretary of Education Damian Hinds announced that a maximum of 370 schools in England will participate in a series of studies testing different approaches to supporting children and adolescent’s mental health.

Children attending one of the participating schools will benefit from mindfulness exercises, pupil sessions with mental health experts, relaxation techniques and breathing exercises to help them regulate their emotions, according to a United Kingdom Government release.

The study will take place until 2021 and aims to gives new, strong evidence about what practices are most successful in regulating their students’ mental health and well-being.

“Schools and teachers don’t have all the answers, nor could they, but we know they can play a special role which is why we have launched one of the biggest mental health trials in schools,” Hinds said. “These trials are key to improving our understanding of how practical, simple advice can help young people cope with the pressures they face.”

The study is currently in its second wave and is led by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families in partnership with University College London.

United Kingdom Secretary of Health Matt Hancock said he wants all children and young people to have the opportunity to flourish, and protecting their mental health is a huge component of making that possible.

“I’m incredibly excited by this initiative, which will help young people better understand their mental health and identify when they need to ask for help sooner,” Hancock said.

Trials of the study will test five different approaches of supporting children’s mental well-being, such as two approaches focused on increasing awareness in secondary schools through brief information sessions led by a specialist instructor or by experienced teachers; and three approaches in primary and secondary schools that focus on lighter-touch approaches such as mindful exercises, breathing exercises and muscle relation techniques.

“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,” said Dr. Jessica Deighton from the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families. “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.

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