Study information for participating schools

We’re really glad that your school has agreed to take part in this study. You can find more information below, but if you have any questions, please contact the study team for your area (England or Wales).

Who is undertaking this study?

Researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Cardiff are conducting this study.  The work is being funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR).  Dr Judi Kidger is the Lead Researcher. Dr Rhiannon Evans is the main researcher in Cardiff.

What will my school have to do?

The intervention is made up of three parts:

  • At least 8% of all staff will receive training in a validated, national programme called Mental Health First Aid (MHFA; and subsequently will provide a confidential peer support service to colleagues, in which they listen, offer advice and signpost them to other services as appropriate.
  • Training in MHFA for Schools and Colleges, delivered to up to 16 teachers during INSET time. This is a one day version of MHFA, developed specifically for adults working in schools, to strengthen their skills in supporting vulnerable students.
  • A brief mental health awareness raising session (approx. 1 hour) delivered to all teaching staf

Schools taking part have been randomly allocated to either an intervention group (described above) or a control group (continue with usual practice).  In all schools, teachers and year 8 students will be asked to complete a 30 minute questionnaire at the start and end of the study (when the students are in year 10). We will also conduct an interview with a senior member of staff, and collect data on staff absence in the years before and after the intervention.  In a small number of schools we will carry out observations and focus groups with a selection of teachers and students. We do not expect participants to experience any harm from taking part, but we will provide sources of help sheets. All data collected will be confidential; only the research team will see individual responses, and they will be securely stored and reported on anonymously. 

What will my school gain from taking part?

All schools will receive their own anonymised questionnaire data regarding teacher and student emotional health, staff absence and presenteeism, and perceptions of support at school. All intervention schools will receive free staff training. All comparison schools will be given £1000 at the end of the study, which could be used to pay for MHFA training if the study shows this is an effective way to support staff.

What will be done with the study findings?

The findings will be communicated to schools, Local Education Authorities, policy-makers and other researchers.  The names of all participating schools and individuals will be kept anonymous during this process.  The results will be used to assess the extent to which the intervention was effective at improving teacher and student wellbeing and mental health, reducing absence and improving performance at work.  If the findings are positive, other schools will be encouraged to take up the intervention.

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