Poor mental health can occur at any stage in the life span. But with the effects of the pandemic playing heavily on the mental health of people of all ages, coupled with the almost doubling of referrals to child mental health services in Wales, the need for evidence-based analysis has never been timelier.
The ADR Wales Mental Health research programme led by Professor Ann John will focus on the matters of anxiety, depression and suicide and self-harm prevention in line with the Welsh Government’s commitment to invest in mental health by redesigning services to “improve prevention, tackle stigma and promote a no-wrong door approach to mental health support”.
While there was already in a rise in trends prior to the pandemic, the research team aims to better understand the impacts of the pandemic itself on children and young people’s mental health. This analysis is informed by the team’s previous research on school absences and exclusions and their connections to mental health diagnosis. Ultimately, it is hoped that providing an evidence base can lead to policies and practices focused on identifying and treating poor mental health as early as possible before crisis point in reached.
The Mental Health research programme has strong links to a number of leading mental health organisations and steering groups. ADR Wales’ Ann is Principal Investigator and Co-Director of DATAMIND, Health Data Research Hub for Mental Health. She also leads the Adolescent Mental Health Data Platform, the Suicide Information Database-Cymru, the informatics work streams of the Wolfson Centre for Young People’s Mental Health and the National Centre for Mental Health, while being affiliated to numerous other mental health organisations.
The Programme for Government recognises the importance of providing effective, high quality and sustainable mental health services. This research theme will seek to provide evidence to inform, reform and prioritise investment.
Our work around mental health will cover five areas: school absence and exclusion rates of individuals with a mental health diagnosis; the effectiveness of various mental health transformation services (data permitting); a look at those educated other than at school; the mental health of socio-economic, ethnic minority and underserved groups; and prisoners and self-harm.
We will investigate the impact of Covid-19 on rates of school absence and exclusion of children and adolescents with primary and secondary care mental health diagnosis. We will build on previous work looking at the mental health of pupils absent or excluded at school, now looking at those educated other than at school (EOTAS).
We will link prison data across Wales to identify the prior histories and trajectories of prisoners who self-harm to assess need and risk factors.
We will explore how data linking research can help evaluate, inform and refine mental health transformation services. We will also characterise the mental health of socio-economic, ethnic minority and underserved groups, assess their equity of access to services for mental health and outcomes for those where mental health problems intersect.
Data Insight: Association of school absence and exclusion with recorded neurodevelopmental disorders, mental disorders or self-harm: A nationwide e-cohort study of children and young people in Wales
This Data Insight examines the association of school absence and exclusion with recorded neurodevelopmental disorders, mental disorders, or self-harm in a large cohort of children and young people in Wales.