Title: Scottish Secondary School Students – Exploring factors affecting Mental

Title: Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS) in English and
Scottish Secondary School Students – Exploring factors affecting Mental
Wellbeing in the school environment
to explore factors in secondary schools in Scotland and England associated with positive
mental wellbeing in children aged 14 and 16 years
Why it is interesting?
Emotional and behavioural problems are rapidly taking precedence over physical
complaints as the major cause of ill health in adolescents of industrialised nations.1 A
critical time of transition in terms of self-identity, thought processes and social roles, the
nature of an individual’s passage through adolescence is crucial in shaping life as an
Wellbeing can be defined as a positive and sustainable mental state that allows individuals,
groups and nations to thrive and flourish.4 There is increasing evidence that positive
mental health constitutes more than the mere absence of mental illness, and plays an
independent role in health outcomes.5,6,7 Positive wellbeing in childhood and adolescence is
associated with greater educational attainment and better health and occupational
functioning in adulthood.3 In contrast, high levels of negative emotions at this time are
associated with a higher incidence of adult risk-taking, depression, and impaired social
relationships as well as an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.8,9
A 2003 systematic review found the promotion of positive mental health to be more
effective in sustaining positive wellbeing than interventions which concentrate on mental
illness during adolescence.10 Schools are thought to be ideally placed to identify individuals
experiencing poor positive mental health and to tackle the specific predictors of poor wellbeing, which include involvement in bullying,11,12 teenage pregnancy,13 and low levels of
physical exercise,14,15 as well as unhelpful parenting.16,17 Promotion of positive wellbeing
in adolescence is a UK national priority, related to outcomes set out in “Every Child
Matters.”18 Ofsted are currently considering a number of indicators to formally assess
school performance in this area, including pupil self-reports.19 However mental wellbeing is
clearly complex and multifactorial. 19
1. To use previously gathered data on ~1,800 pupils from 6 schools in Scotland and
England to construct a model of adolescent wellbeing which draws on school-level
variables; individual socio-demographic variables; and individual physical health variables
2. To assist in making recommendations to Ofsted and to local authorities on indicators to
formally assess school performance in the area of pupils’ mental wellbeing which take
account of the above factors.
Data Available
Double-entered, cleaned date will be available covering a number of measures of individual
mental and physical wellbeing as well as variables relating to individual socioeconomic
status and to the school environment e.g. post code/deprivation; pupil attainment etc
Techniques Required
Modelling to understand/explore the roles of the different factors in their associations with
Prospective deliverables
A report to Dr Tim Friede and Dr Aileen Clarke
Relation to end/downstream users: who should benefit from this [line of]
To make recommendations to local authorities/Primary Care Trusts and to Ofsted on how
this work should be carried forward and focused. Eventually teenagers might benefit from
this line of work
Prospects for this miniproject leading into a PhD project : good
1. Barlow, J. & Underdown, A. (2005) Promoting the social and emotional health of children: where to
now? Journal of the Royal Society of Health 125(2):64-70
2. Bergman, M.M. & Scott, J. (2001) Young adolescents’ wellbeing and health-risk behaviours: gender
and socio-economic differences. Journal of Adolescents 24(2):183-97
3. Hazell, P. (2007) Does the treatment of mental disorders in childhood lead to a healthier
adulthood? Current Opinion in Psychiatry 20(4):315-8
4. Huppert, F.A., Baylis, N., Keverne, B. (2004) Why do we need a science of wellbeing? Philosophical
Transactions of the Royal Society of London. B 359, 1331-1332 (doi:10.1098/rstb2004.1519)
5. Huppert, F.A. & Whittington, J.E. (2003) Evidence for the independence of positive and negative
well-being: implications for quality of life assessment. British Journal of Psychology 8(1):107-22
6. Huppert, F.A. & Whittington, J.E. (1995) Symptoms of psychological distress predict 7-year
mortality. Journal of Psychological Medicine 25(5):1073-86
7. Whittington J.E., Huppert, F.A. (1998) Creating invariant subscales of the GHQ30. Social Science
and Medicine. 46:1429-1440
8. Barlow, J. & Parsons, J. (2003) Group-based parent-training programmes for improving emotional
and behavioural adjustment in 0-3 year old children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews Issue
2. Art. No.: CD003680. DOI: 10.1002/14651858
9. Keyes, C.L. (2004) The nexus of cardiovascular disease and depression revisited: the complete
mental health perspective and the moderating role of age and gender. Aging and Mental Health.
10. Wells, J., Barlow, J., Stewart-Brown, S. (2003) A systematic review of universal approaches to
mental health promotion in schools. Health Education. 103(4):197-220
11. Barker, G. & Olukoya, A. (2005) Young people, social support and help-seeking. International
Journal of Adolescent Mental Health 17(4):315-35
12. Richter, M., & Bowles, D. (2007) Bullying, psychosocial health and risk behaviour in adolescence.
Gesundheitswesen 69(8-9):475-82
13. Paranjothy, S., Broughton, H.K., Adappa, R. & Fone, D. (2008) Teenage Pregnancies: who
suffers? Archives of Diseases of Children. [E-publication ahead of print] PMID: 19019886
14. Steptoe, A. & Butler, N. (1996) Sports participation and emotional wellbeing in adolescents.
Lancet 347(9018):1789-92
15. Ussher, M.H. & Owen, C.G. (2007) The relationship between physical activity, sedentary behaviour
and psychological wellbeing among adolescents. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
16. Lachowski, S. & Lachowska, B. (2007) Mental wellbeing of children engaged in agricultural work
activities and quality of family environment. Annals of Agricultural and Environmental Medicine
17. Shek, D.T. (1997) The relation of family functioning to adolescent psychological well-being, school
adjustment and problem behaviour. Journal of Genetic Psychology 158(4):467-79
18. Every Child Matters (2003) Green Paper CM5860 Crown Copyright
http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk [Accessed 29/01/2009]
19. Blake A. Putz R. Personal Communication. 2009