University of Manchester: Study to examine effects of children’s life skills programme

Researchers based at The University of Manchester are set to begin a study that will examine the effects of a school-based life skills programme after being awarded with £800k of funding by Norway’s Kavli Trust.

The study will examine whether Passport – skills for life – a mental health promotion programme developed to increase 9-11 years-old children’s coping skills which is widely used in primary schools around the world – is successful at promoting children’s ability to manage their emotions as a means to reduce distress, loneliness and bullying during the important transition between childhood to adolescence.

A research team led by Professors Neil Humphrey and Pamela Qualter will undertake a major trial of the programme in Greater Manchester, involving 60 primary schools and over 2,000 children.

Among other things, they aim to find out whether it has a meaningful impact on children’s outcomes (and whether this is maintained over time), if some children benefit more than others from taking part, and whether it offers good value for money.

“In addition to answering the main research questions, the data we generate will also be used to enrich our understanding of the development of mental health in the period in which children become adolescents – for example, we will use it to assess relationships over time between bullying, loneliness, and wellbeing,” said study trial manager Dr Joao Santos.

We are absolutely delighted to be undertaking this important research for Kavli Trust, which will enable us to make significant advancements in our understanding of whether and how school-based interventions can make a difference to children’s mental health during a vital period in their development.

Professor Neil Humphrey of The University of Manchester

“This study examines whether a school-based intervention can positively impact children’s mental health, and I am particularly enthused by the focus on the role of loneliness, and how that links to mental health outcomes and change – that focus has been missing from previous intervention work”, added Professor Pamela Qualter.

“Kavli Trust has provided us with a wonderful opportunity to assess the impact of a promising school-based intervention on children’s mental health,” added Dr Joao Santos. “By implementing robust theoretical, methodological, and analytical principles in the assessment of this school-based intervention, we hope to make an important and accurate contribution to the field.”

“I look forward to seeing the impact this research will have on all participating agents, particularly given the increasing need to improve children’s mental health and wellbeing.”

“Kavli Trust is pleased to announce this grant award to Professor Joao Santos and his research team”, said General Manager of Kavli Trust, Inger Elise Iversen. “So far the results reported in practice-based knowledge and evaluations of the Passport programme are very good. We look forward to contributing to further evidence based knowledge about the impact of the programme, and to get to know more about how and why it works”, said Iversen.