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School characteristics and children's mental health: A linked survey-administrative data study

Patalay, P; O'Neill, E; Deighton, J; Fink, E; (2020) School characteristics and children's mental health: A linked survey-administrative data study. Preventive Medicine , 141 , Article 106292. 10.1016/j.ypmed.2020.106292. Green open access

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Abstract

Mental health difficulties are childhood-onset with lifelong health, social and economic consequences. Children spend a large amount of time in schools, making schools an important context for mental health prevention and support. We examine how school composition and school climate, controlling for individual child-level characteristics, are associated with children's mental health difficulties (emotional and behavioural difficulties). Data from 23,215 children from 648 primary schools in England were analysed to examine the associations of school composition (size, gender, socioeconomic and ethnicity) and school climate with mental health (emotional symptoms, behavioural symptoms and above clinical cut-off scores) adjusting for individual child socio-demographic characteristics. We find that between 3% and 4.5% of the variation in children's mental health outcomes could be attributed to schools. Of this, small proportions were explained by school composition (1.4 to 3.8%) and larger proportions were explained by school climate (29.5 to 48.8%). Lower school socio-economic status was associated with higher behavioural symptoms (coef = 0.02 [95%CI: 0.01–0.04]) and slightly raised odds of high mental health difficulties (OR = 1.05, 95% CI: 1.01,1.09). More positive school climate was associated with lower emotional (coef = −0.09 [95%CI:-0.11,-0.08]) and behavioural (coef = −0.13 [95% CI,-0.15:-0.11]) symptoms and lower odds of mental health difficulties (OR = 0.78, 95%CI:0.74,0.81). Some associations between school factors and mental health were moderated by child sex and SES. School composition factors were weakly associated with children's mental health, whereas school climate explained a larger amount of between-school variation and appears a good target for universal prevention of mental health difficulties in children.

Type: Article
Title: School characteristics and children's mental health: A linked survey-administrative data study
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2020.106292
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2020.106292
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: mental health, community, prevention, young people, school, education, children
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science > Population Science and Experimental Medicine
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science > Population Science and Experimental Medicine > MRC Unit for Lifelong Hlth and Ageing
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10113903
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