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Article
Publication date: 1 August 2003

Jane Wells, Jane Barlow and Sarah Stewart‐Brown

Reviews previous studies of the universal approach to mental health promotion, and disease prevention programmes or interventions in schools. Over 8,000 publications were…

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Abstract

Reviews previous studies of the universal approach to mental health promotion, and disease prevention programmes or interventions in schools. Over 8,000 publications were identified initially and 425 studies obtained for further review. The inclusion criteria were met by 17 (mostly US) studies investigating 16 interventions. Positive evidence of effectiveness was obtained for programmes that adopted a whole‐school approach, were implemented continuously for more than a year, and were aimed at the promotion of mental health as opposed to the prevention of mental illness. Provides evidence that universal school mental health promotion programmes can be effective and suggests that long‐term interventions promoting the positive mental health of all pupils and involving changes to the school climate are likely to be more successful than brief class‐based mental illness prevention programmes.

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Health Education, vol. 103 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-4283

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2007

Ruth Tennant, Cristina Goens, Jane Barlow, Crispin Day and Sarah Stewart‐Brown

There is a growing policy imperative to promote positive mental health as well as prevent the development of mental health problems in children. This paper summarises the…

Abstract

There is a growing policy imperative to promote positive mental health as well as prevent the development of mental health problems in children. This paper summarises the findings of published systematic reviews evaluating such interventions. A search was undertaken of ten electronic databases using a combination of medical subject headings (MeSH) and free text searches. Systematic reviews covering mental health promotion or mental illness prevention interventions aimed at infants, children or young people up to age 19 were included. Reviews of drug and alcohol prevention programmes and programmes to prevent childhood abuse and neglect were excluded because these have been the subject of recent good quality reviews of reviews. A total of 27 systematic reviews were included. These targeted a range of risk and protective factors, and a range of populations (including parents and children). While many lacked methodological rigour, overall the evidence is strongly suggestive of the effectiveness of a range of interventions in promoting positive mental well‐being, and reducing key risk factors for mental illness in children. Based on this evidence, arguments are advanced for the preferential provision of early preventive programmes.

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Journal of Public Mental Health, vol. 6 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5729

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Journal of Children's Services, vol. 9 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-6660

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Article
Publication date: 1 November 2006

Jane Barlow, Doug Simkiss and Sarah Stewart‐Brown

The aim of this article is to summarise the available evidence from systematic reviews about the effectiveness of interventions to prevent or treat child physical abuse…

Abstract

The aim of this article is to summarise the available evidence from systematic reviews about the effectiveness of interventions to prevent or treat child physical abuse and neglect. A computerised search was undertaken of major electronic databases up to December 2005 using key search terms. Only systematic reviews were included in which the primary studies evaluated the effectiveness of targeted or indicated interventions for child physical abuse or neglect. A total of 31 systematic reviews were identified and 15 met all the inclusion criteria. They covered a range of interventions/services, including home visiting, parenting programmes, multi‐component interventions, intensive family preservation services, family‐focused casework and multi‐systemic family therapy. There was limited evidence of the effectiveness of services in improving objective measures of abuse and neglect, due in part to methodological issues involved in their measurement, but good evidence of modest benefits in improving a range of outcomes that are associated with physical abuse and neglect, including parental and family functioning and child development. The results also showed some interventions (eg. media‐based and perinatal coaching) to be ineffective with high‐risk families. The evidence provided by these reviews has clear implications for children's services in the UK and other western developed countries.

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Journal of Children's Services, vol. 1 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-6660

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Article
Publication date: 10 June 2014

Vivette Glover and Jane Barlow

Foetal programming is one of the key mechanisms by which physical and social adversity is biologically embedded during pregnancy. While early interest in such programming…

Abstract

Purpose

Foetal programming is one of the key mechanisms by which physical and social adversity is biologically embedded during pregnancy. While early interest in such programming focused on the long-term impact of the mother's nutritional state on the child's later physical health, more recent research has identified an increased risk of psychopathology in children of women who have experienced stress, anxiety and depression during pregnancy. The purpose of this paper is to examine the literature addressing the impact of stress in pregnancy and the implications for practice.

Design/methodology/approach

An overview of the literature has been provided.

Findings

Both anxiety and depression in pregnancy are common, with a prevalence in the region of 20 per cent. Exposure in pregnancy to anxiety, depression and stress from a range of sources (e.g. bereavement, relationship problems, external disasters and war), is associated with a range of physical (e.g. congenital malformations, reduced birthweight and gestational age), neurodevelopmental, cognitive, and emotional and behavioural (e.g. ADHD, conduct disorder) problems. The magnitude is significant, with the attributable risk of childhood behaviour problems due to prenatal stress being between 10 and 15 per cent, and the variance in cognitive development due to prenatal stress being around 17 per cent. A range of methods of intervening are effective in improving both maternal anxiety and depression, and in the longer term should improve outcomes for the infant and child.

Research limitations/implications

This research highlights the importance of intervening to support the psychological wellbeing of pregnant women to improve outcomes for infants and children, and points to the need for further research into innovative ways of working, particularly with high-risk groups of pregnant women.

Originality/value

The paper provides an update of earlier overviews.

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Journal of Children's Services, vol. 9 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-6660

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Article
Publication date: 10 June 2014

Carolyn Summerbell, Helen Moore and Claire O’Malley

– The purpose of this paper is to review the evidence base for effective public health interventions which aim to improve the diet of children aged zero to three years.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to review the evidence base for effective public health interventions which aim to improve the diet of children aged zero to three years.

Design/methodology/approach

General review.

Findings

Key approaches and components of effective interventions include: repeated tasting, parental modelling, use of rewards, moderate restriction of “unhealthy” foods alongside an increase in portion sizes of fruits and vegetables, culturally appropriate messages, culturally acceptable health care provider, sufficient intensity of intervention, and an intervention which targets parental self-efficacy and modelling. Interventions which provide home visits (rather than require visits to a GP surgery or local community centre) financial incentives and/or mobile phone reminders may increase retention, particularly for some individuals. Recruiting mothers into programmes whilst they are pregnant may improve recruitment and retention rates.

Originality/value

Allows for key public health interventions, approaches and components to be explored and identified. This will ensure that there is guidance to inform the development of new interventions for this age group and more importantly recommend that those components which are most successful be incorporated in policy and practice.

Details

Journal of Children's Services, vol. 9 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-6660

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 16 March 2015

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Journal of Children's Services, vol. 10 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-6660

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Article
Publication date: 10 June 2014

Ron Gray, Debra Bick and Yan-Shing Chang

The purpose of this paper is to describe the major factors affecting health during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period and outline the evidence for interventions to…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe the major factors affecting health during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period and outline the evidence for interventions to improve outcomes in women and their children.

Design/methodology/approach

Selective review of the literature. A number of electronic bibliographic databases were searched, including the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, PubMed and PsycINFO, for relevant studies published since 1990. Papers were restricted to those published in English which presented data from studies conducted in high-income countries, with priority given to systematic reviews, randomised controlled trials and other quantitative studies which present a higher level of evidence.

Findings

Many factors may affect maternal and infant health during and after pregnancy. Potentially modifiable factors with an evidence base to support intervention include improving diet, and the avoidance of smoking, alcohol and illicit drugs. Good clinical management of underlying illness is also important, along with attempts to engage women in improving health prior to conception and postnatally rather than once pregnancy is established.

Research limitations/implications

The evidence base for interventions on some potentially modifiable risk factors is incomplete. There is good evidence of benefit from some health behaviours such as smoking cessation and uptake of breastfeeding and accumulating evidence of the benefit of some models of maternity care.

Practical implications

Good maternal health during and after pregnancy plays a key role in giving the child a better start in life. Improved health behaviours are vital but often these are heavily dependent on social context and hence working to tackle social inequality and provide maternity care tailored to individual need is likely to be just as important as trying to directly alter behaviour.

Originality/value

Pregnancy and the postnatal period present an opportunity to improve maternal health and have a positive effect on future child health. Greater investment is required in this antenatal period of life.

Details

Journal of Children's Services, vol. 9 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-6660

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Article
Publication date: 10 June 2014

Angela Donkin, Jillian Roberts, Alison Tedstone and Michael Marmot

This paper was written as part of a suite to inform the Big Lottery Better Start programme and as such has focused on the outcomes that are of interest to that programme…

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper was written as part of a suite to inform the Big Lottery Better Start programme and as such has focused on the outcomes that are of interest to that programme. The authors have also focused on outcomes for younger children and the zero to three years age group where data are available. There is a social gradient such that the lower a family's socio-economic status (SES) the greater the likelihood that they have children who are obese, have impaired social and emotional skills, or have impaired language acquisition. These statistics are clear and undisputed. The purpose of this paper is to explore some of the reasons for the social gradient in these outcomes. The paper provides some suggestions for actions that might be taken to redress the inequalities. It follows broader work presented in, for example, the Marmot (2010) review, Fair Society Healthy Lives.

Design/methodology/approach

Rapid review of the literature building on the work of the Marmot (2010) review.

Findings

Poor SES is linked with increased stress and a higher likelihood of being unable to afford to live a healthy life. These factors can have a negative impact on children's outcomes. The paper presents some examples of what can be done.

Originality/value

This should be a useful paper for local authorities trying to reduce inequalities and improve outcomes.

Details

Journal of Children's Services, vol. 9 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-6660

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Article
Publication date: 10 June 2014

National Scientific Council

Drawing on the scientific literature, the purpose of this paper is to elucidate the harmful effects of toxic stress on the developing brain. It explains how severe…

Abstract

Purpose

Drawing on the scientific literature, the purpose of this paper is to elucidate the harmful effects of toxic stress on the developing brain. It explains how severe, chronic adversity during development, in the absence of responsive caregiving, can impair brain architecture. It also outlines policy implications for preventing or mitigating the effects of toxic stress in early childhood.

Design/methodology/approach

The National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, based at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, is a multidisciplinary, multiuniversity panel of scholars that seeks to bring science to bear on public decision making. Council members selected excessive stress as a topic meriting translation for a general audience and conducted extensive peer review in drafting the paper's key scientific concepts.

Findings

The paper discusses how healthy development can be derailed by excessive or prolonged activation of the biological stress response systems and how that increases lifetime risk for certain behavioural and physiological disorders. It finds that supportive relationships with caregivers can help buffer the negative consequences of toxic stress.

Social implications

The paper calls for improvements to family support programmes, mental health services, and the quality and availability of early care and education.

Originality/value

This paper describes an original taxonomy of positive, tolerable, and toxic stress and demonstrates the need to translate scientific knowledge about the developing brain into actionable strategies for the prevention and treatment of the effects of adverse childhood experiences.

Details

Journal of Children's Services, vol. 9 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-6660

Keywords

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