Ann John, Muhammad Rahman, Mike Kerr, Robert Potter, Jonathan Kennedy, Sinead Brophy – Swansea University
Little is known about how mental health in primary school affects later adolescent (teenage) mental health. This study examined the effect of education in primary school on the development of mental health conditions.
This study explored the mental health of all children in Wales between 1999 and 2014. Researchers used data from GP surgeries and hospitals and linked it with education records. This data was then held in the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) Databank. SAIL, based at Swansea University, is a world class system that brings together different sources of data in a secure, trusted and confidential way – removing the individual’s identity.
Health records of 652 903 children (319 839 boys, 307 584 girls) were linked with educational records. The research revealed that:
This study revealed that the pathway of achievement in primary school is very different for children who develop depression, self-harm, or eating disorders.
- Those who developed depression in late adolescence (aged 17-19) were deprived children whose achievements where shown to be declining during their primary school education and continued to decline in secondary school. Therefore, depression was associated with prolonged decline in school.
- Academic decline occurs very close to the period of self-harm (aged 14-15) suggesting that academic decline could be a ‘symptom’ of another problem in those who self-harm.
- However, eating disorders were not associated with education or deprivation in primary school but associated with high achievement in secondary school.
This research, which was funded by the National Centre for Population Health & Well Being Research, provides valuable insights and suggests that declining in academic attainment may be an indicator that interventions aimed at emotion and social development could improve and reduce the development of future mental health problems. Helping children improve their academic attainment and supporting them at an early stage may directly help protect against future depression.
For further information visit: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673616322371