The Role of Schools in Early Adolescents’ Mental Health: Findings From the MYRIAD Study

Tamsin Ford, Michelle Degli esposti, Catherine Crane, Laura Taylor, Jesús Montero-Marín, Sarah-jayne Blakemore, Lucy Bowes, Sarah Byford, Tim Dalgleish, Mark T. Greenberg, Elizabeth Nuthall, Alice Phillips, Anam Raja, Obioha C. Ukoumunne, Russell M. Viner, J. Mark G. Williams, Matt Allwood, Louise Aukland, Tríona Casey, Katherine De wildeEleanor-rose Farley, Nils Kappelmann, Liz Lord, Emma Medlicott, Lucy Palmer, Ariane Petit, Isobel Pryor-Nitsch, Lucy Radley, Lucy Warriner, Anna Sonley, Willem Kuyken, Saz Ahmed, Susan Ball, Marc Bennett, Nicola Dalrymple, Darren Dunning, Katie Fletcher, Lucy Foulkes, Poushali Ganguli, Cait Griffin, Kirsty Griffiths, Konstantina Komninidou, Rachel Knight, Suzannah Laws, Jovita Leung, Jenna Parker, Blanca Piera Pi-Sunyer, J. Ashok Sakhardande, Jem Shackleford, Kate Tudor, Maris Vainre, Brian Wainman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (SciVal)


Recent studies suggest mental health in youths is deteriorating. The current policy in the United Kingdom emphasizes the role of schools for mental health promotion and prevention, but little data exist on what aspects of schools influence mental health in pupils. This study explored school-level influences on the mental health of young people in a large school-based sample from the United Kingdom.
Baseline data from a large cluster randomized controlled trial collected between 2016 and 2018 from mainstream secondary schools selected to be representative in relation to their quality rating, size, deprivation, mixed or single-sex pupil population, and country were analyzed. Participants were pupils in their first or second year of secondary school. The study assessed whether school-level factors were associated with pupil mental health.
The study included 26,885 pupils (response rate = 90%; age range, 11‒14 years; 55% female) attending 85 schools in the United Kingdom. Schools accounted for 2.4% (95% CI: 2.0%‒2.8%; p < .0001) of the variation in psychopathology, 1.6% (95% CI: 1.2%‒2.1%; p < .0001) of depression, and 1.4% (95% CI: 1.0%‒1.7%; p < .0001) of well-being. Schools in urban locations, with a higher percentage of free school meals and of White British, were associated with poorer pupil mental health. A more positive school climate was associated with better mental health.
School-level variables, primarily related to contextual factors, characteristics of pupil population, and school climate, explain a small but significant amount of variability in mental health of young people. This information might be used to identify schools that are in need of more resources to support mental health of young people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1467-1478
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number12
Early online date4 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Disclosure: Drs. Crane, Taylor, and Montero-Marín, Mss. Nuthall, Phillips, and Raja, Mr. Allwood, Mss. Aukland, Casey, De Wilde, and Farley, Mr. Kappelmann, and Mss. Lord, Medlicott, and Pryor-Nitsch have reported affiliation with the Oxford Mindfulness Centre. Prof. Blakemore has received funding from the Jacobs Foundation, UK Research and Innovation, and University of Cambridge. Prof. Dalgleish has held grants from the UK Medical Research Council (MR/P017355/1; MC_PC_17213) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ES/R010781/1) not directly related to the current study. Dr. Ukoumunne was supported by the National Institute for Health Research Applied Research Collaboration South West Peninsula. Prof. Kuyken is Director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre. Prof. Ford, Dr. Esposti, Profs. Bowes, Byford, Greenberg, Viner, and Williams, Dr. Palmer, and Mss. Petit, Warriner, and Sonley have reported no biomedical financial interests or potential conflicts of interest.


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