How to Get it Right when Surveying Young People’s Mental Health

The mental health of children and young people is recognised as an international public health priority and, therefore, a research priority. Researchers are increasingly asking children and young people to complete self-report questionnaires to better understand their health and wellbeing. Often, this research is carried out in schools, partly because this is a useful way of engaging with large groups of children and young people, but also as a way of assessing local needs and evaluating interventions.

In their guidance, The Evidence Based Practice Unit offer a range of recommendations for facilitating school- based self-report mental health data collection with children and young people. These recommendations should be tailored to the context of each individual project and used in conjunction with standard and institutional ethical and data protection guidance.

You can read the full guidance here. The key recommendations are:

  1. Select questionnaires carefully
  2. Ensure participant information and instructions are clear and age-appropriate
  3. Consider accessibility for different groups of children and young people
  4. Have clear procedures to support participants emotionally
  5. Provide clear guidance and support for schools
  6. Get support from school leadership

Reference: Demkowicz, O., Ritchie, B., Ashworth, E., Tait, N., Miles, H., Panayiotou, M., Patalay, P., Burrell, K., & Deighton, J. (2020). Mental health questionnaire research with children and young people in schools: Recommendations for good practice. Evidence Based Practice Unit.