The impact of universal, school based, interventions on help seeking in children and young people: a systematic literature review

Daniel Hayes, Rosie Mansfield, Carla Mason, Joao Santos, Anna Moore, Jan Boehnke, Emma Ashworth, Bettina Moltrecht, Neil Humphrey, Paul Stallard, Praveetha Patalay, Jessica Deighton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Citations (SciVal)


Reviews into universal interventions to improve help seeking in young people focus on specific concepts, such as behaviour, do not differentiate between interpersonal and intrapersonal help seeking, and often report on statistical significance, rather than effect size. The aim of this review was to address the gaps highlighted above, to investigate the impact of universal, school-based interventions on help-seeking in children and young people, as well as to explore longer term impact. Four databases were searched. Data were extracted on country of origin, design, participant, school, and intervention characteristics, the help-seeking concept measured (e.g. knowledge, attitude/intention, behaviour), the duration between baseline and each follow-up (if applicable) and effect sizes at each follow-up. Quality assessment of the studies was undertaken using the Effective Public Health Practice Project (EPHPP) quality assessment tool. Overall, 14 different interventions met inclusion criteria. The majority of the studies were rated low in the quality assessment. Three constructs were most frequently reported a) intrapersonal attitudes towards help-seeking, b) interpersonal attitudes towards help-seeking and c) intrapersonal intended help-seeking. Findings around intervention effect were mixed. There was tentative evidence that interventions impacting interpersonal attitudes produced small effect sizes when measured between 3 and 6 months post intervention and that when effect sizes were initially observed intrapersonal attitudes, this remained at 3–6 month follow-up. Further work should pay attention to implementation factors, understanding the core ingredients needed to deliver effective interventions and whether embedding mental health education could help sustain or top up effect sizes from help-seeking interventions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Early online date13 Jan 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is funded by the Department for Education, England. However, the views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Department for Education.


  • Child
  • Help-seeking
  • Mental health
  • School
  • Universal
  • Young person

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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