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Mental health issues in schools

A recent article in the British Journal of Psychiatry (2019; 215, 565-567) has highlighted the startling prevalence of mental health problems within secondary school age children.

Deighton et al. studied over 28,000 children in years 7 and 9, at 97 English state schools in 6 different geographical areas. Despite acknowledging minor bias in terms of deprivation etc., the results cannot be ignored.


The children completed self-report questionnaires during a normal school lesson. These identified a number of problem areas, including: emotional, conduct, hyperactivity/inattention and peer-relationship.


Scores in the “abnormal” range for the different problem areas:

Emotional 18.4%

Conduct 18.5%

Inattention etc. 25.3%

Peer-relationship 7.3%

Approximately 40% of the children scored in the “abnormal” range in at least one area.



Clearly this was just a survey and it involved a self-report questionnaire, rather than a standardised diagnostic tool used by a professional. However, if these figures are even remotely accurate, this study should cause concern amongst planners … the current provision of mental health support in schools is being based upon out-dated research and much lower prevalence figures (approximately 10%).

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