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Health Promotion and Public Health

17 August 2007 @TeessideUni


Professor Janet Shucksmith undertook several studies with colleagues in Aberdeen shortly before arriving at the University of Teesside. Their work (funded by the Scottish Executive and the Scottish National Programme for Improving Mental Health and Well-being) examined the extent to which schools were beginning to engage with their health promotion role.

In particular they looked at how far down the line schools were moving in terms of supporting interventions to improve children’s and young people’s mental health. Concern for pupils’ mental well-being emerges out of a growing emphasis on schools as sites for health improvement work. Pragmatically, it also reflects a national shortage of Children & Adolescent Mental Health Service staff.

A telephone survey of key informants in all Scottish local authorities and health boards established a mapping of initiatives currently under way in schools. Six intensive case studies were undertaken to explore ways in which mental health agendas were pursued through multi-agency/collaborative working. This is a key element in allowing teachers to re-skill to allow early diagnosis of or better support of children experiencing mental health problems, or in helping schools develop ethos and relationships that promote good mental health.

Case study schools were found to be operating a variety of models, both exporting problems and importing skills, but the degree of ‘ownership’ of the issue by the school was critical in establishing how likely such initiatives were to be sustained.

Different aspects of the work have been reported in practitioner friendly format in several places and in a number of peer-reviewed journals.