Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Sch for Policy Studies


The prevalence of mental health illness in the UK alone equates to 850,000 young people experiencing a diagnosable mental health illness (ONS, 2018). Left unresolved, this could lead to 'maladaptive coping strategies' (Thompson et al, 2010:461) in later life, thus becoming the root of 'serious and chronic mental health illness' in adulthood. The paucity of critical engagement within education policy and practice surrounding a switch from personalised models of intervention to ubiquitous universality warrants attention since emotional wellbeing and intervention are presented as a 'form of emotional inoculation' (Vostanais et al, 2013:3): a set of skills, attitudes and behaviours that can be taught, learned and transferred to pupils, ready for use in all manner of situations. Critically, there are some adolescents who navigate mental health illness without intervention, whose contribution to the knowledge base remains largely absent (Hodes and Shur Fen-Gau, 2016). Understanding what explains their resilience, and, crucially addressing the significant lack of youth engagement in policy and practices aimed at 'transforming' adolescent mental health services is vital to extending and forging new knowledge. This project, therefore, will address the gaps identified in the knowledge base, and it will ensure that policy, education and health reforms are shaped by those young people in co-productive, age appropriate and respectful ways to place them at the heart of the issues, in turn promoting 'meaningful changes' (DfE, 2017:14) for society's most vulnerable.

Research Aims
To explore how secondary schools use and choose interventions to respond to the changing landscape of adolescent mental health policy
To examine the mechanisms maintaining resilience in adolescents experiencing SEMH needs
Understand what theoretical and empirical evidence base exists to justify the use of resilience interventions
To understand the criteria for effective intervention models used by (a) developers; (b) teachers (c) adolescent participants

I will collaborate with young people to pursue an agenda of transformation in order to influence health and education policy and practice. Quantitative and qualitative methods will be used to explore, analyse and evaluate a representative and stratified sample obtained from the following schools (with whom the researcher has already negotiated access): All Hallows, Ribblesdale, Beechen Cliff and Monkton Combe of the typical interventions taking place within school. The young researchers will be actively involved and engaged in workshops, group projects and self-completion of wellbeing and emotional measures to participate, explore and extend the knowledge base surrounding resilience and to ensure that new policy and practice is designed and led by young people. The combination of qualitative and quantitative methods of focus groups, interviews, and the interrogation of statistical data gathered across completed well-being measures will provide new youth information on resilience to (a) improve service for all; (b) extend current thinking around this hot topic. Furthermore, collaboration at a youth conference day will provide an opportunity for the participants to create an impact, challenge negative perceptions and collaborate with researchers to gain key skills, such as public speaking.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000630/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2223004 Studentship ES/P000630/1 01/10/2019 31/12/2023 Amanda Ivic