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Promoting good mental health for young Londoners

A research study in London schools aims to develop better ways to support young people living in diverse urban centres

King’s researchers are working with school pupils across south London to better understand ways to promote good mental health in young people from all backgrounds.

The Resilience, Ethnicity & Adolescent Mental Health (REACH) study – led by researchers from the Social Epidemiology Research Group at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience – is generating unique information on why some young people in diverse inner-city areas thrive while others struggle.

‘The mental health of young people is a major social and public health issue,’ said Professor Craig Morgan, Principal Investigator for REACH. ‘But mental health issues do not affect all equally. Young people from more disadvantaged and marginalised groups tend to experience greater difficulties.’

Around 75 per cent of mental health problems in adults begin before the age of 18. ‘This suggests there is a window in which if we intervene to prevent people developing long-term problems, we could have a major impact on rates of mental health,’ said Professor Morgan.

More than 4,000 students aged 11 to 14 have participated in REACH to date. Each completed annual questionnaires about their mental health and life experiences. Smaller groups, selected at random, took part in in-depth interviews and reasoning, while 400 joined a virtual reality sub-study on the mechanisms underlying the development of mental health problems.

Researchers hope the results will provide new insights on how to prevent mental health problems emerging in the first place.

Each school is offered a series of benefits for supporting REACH – such as psychology lessons and mentorship – with around 10,000 secondary pupils participating to date.

Our students have felt listened to and valued and the study has helped them to better understand the steps they can take to prevent the development of mental health problems in the first place.– Director of Learning Y7 and Head of PSHE at a REACH partner school


Funded by the European Research Council | With thanks to the McPin Foundation, the Young Persons’ Advisory Group and participating young people, schools, teachers and parents

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