Background: There are increasing rates of internalising difficulties, particularly anxiety and depression, being reported in children and young people in England. School-based, universal prevention programmes are thought to be one way of helping tackle such difficulties. This protocol describes a four-arm cluster randomised controlled trial, investigating the effectiveness of three different interventions when compared to usual provision, in English primary and secondary pupils. The primary outcome for Mindfulness and Relaxation interventions is a measure of internalising difficulties, while Strategies for Safety and Wellbeing will be examined in relation to intended help-seeking. In addition to the effectiveness analysis, a process and implementation evaluation and a cost-effectiveness evaluation will be undertaken.
Methods and analysis: Overall, 160 primary schools and 64 secondary schools will be recruited across England. This corresponds to 17,600 participants. Measures will be collected online at baseline, 3-6 months later, and 9-12 months after the commencement of the intervention. An economic evaluation will assess the cost-effectiveness of the interventions. Moreover, a process and implementation evaluation (including a qualitative research component) will explore several aspects of implementation (fidelity, quality, dosage, reach, participant responsiveness, adaptations), social validity (acceptability, appropriateness and feasibility), and their moderating effects on the outcomes of interest, and perceived impact.
Discussion: This trial aims to address important questions about whether schools' practices around the promotion of mental wellbeing and the prevention of mental health problems can: (1) be formalised into feasible and effective models of school-based support and (2) whether these practices and their effects can be sustained over time. Given the focus of these interventions on mirroring popular practice in schools and on prioritising approaches that present low-burden, high-acceptability to schools, if proved effective, and cost-effective, the findings will indicate models that are not only empirically tested but also offer high potential for widespread use and, therefore, potentially widespread benefits beyond the life of the trial.
Trial registration: ISRCTN16386254. Registered on 30 August 2018.
- Cluster randomised controlled trial
- Mental health
- Young person