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Supporting children's emotional wellbeing and mental health in England: a review

Claire Maxwell (Thomas Coram Research Unit, The Institute of Education, University of London, London, UK)
Peter Aggleton (Thomas Coram Research Unit, The Institute of Education, University of London, London, UK)
Ian Warwick (Thomas Coram Research Unit, The Institute of Education, University of London, London, UK)
Ekua Yankah (Thomas Coram Research Unit, The Institute of Education, University of London, London, UK)
Vivian Hill (School of Psychology and Human Development, The Institute of Education, University of London, London, UK)
Dina Mehmedbegović (The London Centre for Leadership in Learning, The Institute of Education, University of London, London, UK)

Health Education

ISSN: 0965-4283

Article publication date: 20 June 2008

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to inform the development of policies and programmes to support children and young people's emotional wellbeing and mental health. It seeks to bring together findings both from recent systematic reviews, and from individual evaluation studies which have adopted a relatively rigorous methodology but whose findings have not to date been included in such analyses. Research undertaken in England is to be prioritised, to complement an existing evidence base comprised largely of findings from US‐based research.

Design/methodology/approach

Using five key search strategies, studies were categorised into three main categories – “demonstrably effective approaches”, “promising approaches” and “approaches for which there is little or no supporting evidence” – according to robustness of evidence. Overall, 171 potentially relevant studies were identified, with 20 of these being robust enough for inclusion in the final review.

Findings

In schools, sustained broad‐based mental health promotion programmes combined with more targeted behavioural and cognitive‐behavioural therapy (CBT) for those children with identifiable emotional wellbeing and mental health needs, offer evidence of a demonstrably effective approach. Early and brief intervention programmes which reduce waiting times for services appear promising approaches and seem to reduce the number of sessions a family require. There is a reasonably strong evidence base to support targeted work with both parents and children.

Practical implications

By providing a detailed description of the successful initiatives reviewed, this paper should help policy‐makers and practitioners to develop their work.

Originality/value

By complementing the relatively narrow evidence base offered by systematic reviews, this more broadly based review offers policy‐makers and practitioners in England an up‐to‐date, context‐relevant guide for programme development within this field.

Keywords

Citation

Maxwell, C., Aggleton, P., Warwick, I., Yankah, E., Hill, V. and Mehmedbegović, D. (2008), "Supporting children's emotional wellbeing and mental health in England: a review", Health Education, Vol. 108 No. 4, pp. 272-286. https://doi.org/10.1108/09654280810884160

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited