World mental health day: an annual cycle in pupils’ self-esteem? #WorldMentalHealthDay

For World Mental Health Day 2019, SHEU offer this preview of a finding from their forthcoming report, Emotional Wellbeing in Young People into 2019, to be released later this year.

Every year, SHEU carry out healthy lifestyle surveys with young people for local authorities, and these surveys involve tens of thousands of young people. At the end of each calendar year, we put all the results from all the surveys together, and publish a report.  These reports contain findings from over 100 health-related behaviour questions using answers from pupils in primary and secondary schools. They tell us about what they do at home, at school, and with their friends. SHEU have published 33 annual reports since 1986.

We have recently aggregated findings from across the last two decades of work with schools and local authorities and believe we have found something interesting and important. 

 

Annual cycle of self-esteem scores

Figure 1. Percentage of young people scoring in the high brackets of self-esteem scores, by year and sex and month of completion, 2001-2018 (N= 267,546)

 

Over the last two decades, the proportion of secondary pupils scoring in the high bracket of self-esteem scores was highest in September, and the figure for each month then declines until February.  There is a bump upwards in March (Spring? the clocks going forward?), but figures then seem to decline again towards the Summer.  This pattern seems to apply to Year 8 and Year 10, and to males and females in each year group, and the differences over the seasons are statistically significant.

This is not an age-related decline, as the September Year 10 figures for males and females are similar to the September Year 8 figures; any decline by July seems to have recovered by September the following year, and we might guess that Year 9 pupils show just the same pattern.  This strongly implies that the Summer holiday is good for young people’s self-esteem; going to school, not so much.

This could be an artefact of other secular changes – for example, if pupils’ self-esteem is declining over the last two decades, and if surveys get done later in the year over the same period, then we might see the same pattern.  But we checked by looking at the larger single-year samples, and see very much the same pattern, although the month-by-month ‘wobble’ is greater.

#WorldMentalHealthDay

FOR FURTHER DETAILS PLEASE CONTACT:
Dr David Regis, Research Manager, SHEU Tel.(01392) 667272 or Contact form
 

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DrDave

Comments about SHEU

I would be extremely interested to see the results as I know how useful this information has been to the other schools in the
borough

Headteacher

"We would like to take part in the next ECM survey. We have found the data produced invaluable for supporting evidence in our SEF etc."

School Vice Principal

Any comments on specific survey questions that may have caused difficulty? No problems. My children were fully briefed before the survey and they understood that they could miss questions if they did not want to answer them. We did not have any children with any concerns regarding the survey at all.

Any comments on the use of the web site? No it was easy to use.

Any general comments on the exercise? The children really enjoyed completing the survey, It has lead to many positive discussions about our health and how we all have slightly different experiences and home lives.

Class teacher

"Over the last twenty years you have achieved much. The surveys and subsequent reports have painted the clearest picture we have of what young people are doing and what they think." Tribute from OFSTED to John Balding, presented at his retirement lunch, May 2005

OFSTED

"Over the last twenty years you have achieved much. The surveys and subsequent reports have painted the clearest picture we have of what young people are doing and what they think." OFSTED 1998

OFSTED

"The data for (us) are very useful ... This is especially important when evaluating the impact of interventions regarding alcohol or other areas, as the survey data are likely to provide an earlier indication than routine data sources."

Specialist Registrar in Public Health

"Many thanks for a major contribution to the health of children in the UK and elsewhere over many years and putting in place the continuation of the Unit." Tribute from a Director of Public Health to John Balding, presented at his retirement lunch, May 2005

Director of Public Health

"Every school involved in the National Healthy School programme should start with an HRBQ survey." Health Education Co-ordinator

Health Education Co-ordinator

Any comments on specific survey questions that may have caused difficulty?
Pupils at our primary school found the questionnaire very easy to understand and most of them completed the questions in less than 45min.

Teacher

Many thanks to you and your team for turning this around so quickly.
We really appreciate it, and also your extra support with the administration this time.

PSHE Lead Advisor