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Measuring and monitoring children and young people’s mental wellbeing: A toolkit for schools and colleges

Public Health England and The Anna Freud Centre have together developed a toolkit to help schools and colleges choose the right resources to effectively monitor mental wellbeing among their student population.

Schools play an important role in promoting pupil's mental wellbeing and are well placed to support their pupils in learning about positive mental health. A recent report published by the House of Commons Education and Health Committees states that around half of all diagnosable mental illness begins before the age of 15, highlighting the importance of ensuring that children and young people get the support that they need from an early age.

Schools might influence pupil mental wellbeing through:

  • providing a supportive culture, ethos and environment;
  • teaching and learning that help students to build important life skills;
  • supporting the development of skills and character traits;
  • partnerships with parents/carers and the wider community.

Schools also play a role both in providing onsite support through, for example, pastoral support systems, inclusion officers, school and college nurses and other school/college based health services, and in providing links and referrals to more specialist support for mental health and wellbeing available in the wider community.

It can be useful for schools to gather some internal information about the wellbeing strengths and needs of their pupil population. There are three key purposes for which schools might wish to measure aspects of wellbeing:

  • to provide a snapshot of student mental wellbeing to identify needs or strengths within whole cohorts, not to identify particular individuals. This approach serves as a sort of 'temperature check' of wellbeing within the school and college. It can be used to plan prevention work and inform planning decisions at school level, across clusters of schools or at a wider geographical level such as a Local Authority.
  • to identify individual students who might benefit from early support to facilitate swifter access to the right specialist support.
  • to evaluate the impact of particular school projects or areas of activity and to ensure that those students who are receiving targeted support are benefiting from it.

Public Health England and The Anna Freud Centre have together developed a toolkit which aims to help schools and colleges choose the right resources to effectively measure subjective mental wellbeing among their student population. The 'Measuring and monitoring children and young people's mental wellbeing: A toolkit for schools and colleges' provides information on a range of validated instruments available to schools which can help them to identify the mental wellbeing needs of their students and decide how best to address those needs based on their own school level data.

The aim of this toolkit is to make schools and college staff aware of the range of validated instruments that can be used to measure and monitor student mental wellbeing. The toolkit also includes practical examples of measurements that have successfully been used in schools, along with a compendium of the tools to help school leaders choose the right ones for them and their pupils. Each tool is helpfully assessed based on school phase, what aspects of mental wellbeing the tool measures and how schools can access each of the resources along with any associated costs.

The Anna Freud Centre also offers a range of courses and conferences to deliver practical advice and training to professionals. As part of their ongoing support for schools (and for those unable to attend the training), the centre has created a 30-minute training video on their 'Measuring and Monitoring Children and Young People's Mental Wellbeing' resources. Take a look at their Knowledge Exchange to watch the video and find out more information.


Page Published: 15/05/2017