The Anna Freud Centre’s online research library contains a collection of evidence-based material on children and young people’s mental health, written and co-written by our team. The research explores factors relating to: 

anxiety | behavioural difficulties | depression | digital mental health | empowering young people and families | early years | evaluation | fostering and adoption | intervention | maltreatment and abuse | measures | mentalization | methodology | neurodiversity | parents and carers| prevalence and trends | prevention | psychological therapies | resources | risk and resilience | social care | trauma | wellbeing

The library is managed by our team of evidence experts. It is updated on a regular basis and currently consists of research published between 2018 and 2023. 

Please be aware that links to our open-access papers lead to external sites and that the management, data handling and administration of these external sites is not the Anna Freud Centre’s responsibility. 


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  • Factors mitigating the harmful effects of intimate partner violence on adolescents' depressive symptoms: a longitudinal birth cohort study

    We tested to what extent positive experiences were associated with depressive symptoms in adolescence among those who were previously exposed to intimate partner violence. Parental intimate partner violence experienced in childhood was associated with more depressive symptoms at age 18. Most positive experiences, such as relationships with parents, teachers, peers, school enjoyment, were linked with fewer depressive symptoms at age 18.

    Authors: Gondek, D., Feder, G., Howe, L. D., Gilbert, R., Howarth, E., Deighton, J., Lacey, R. E. (2023).

    Download the open access paper

  • Apps targeting anorexia nervosa in young people: a systematic review of active ingredients

    The aim of this review was to systematically identify the behavioural change techniques (BCTs) underpinning anorexia nervosa apps for young people. BCTs refer to the “common language” used by researchers to determine the triggers of behaviour change.

    Authors: Chiang, CP., Hayes, D., Panagiotopoulou, E. (2023).

    Download the open access paper

  • Analysis of protective factors in schoolchildren in England using the dual-factor model of mental health

    The dual-factor approach to mental health was employed to explore levels and interrelations of protective factors associated with resilience in a dataset of 30,841 schoolchildren aged 11–14 in England.

    Authors: Jefferies, P., Fritz, J., Deighton, J., Ungar, M. (2023).

    Download the open access paper

  • Measuring pupil mental health and wellbeing: examples of best practice from schools and colleges working with the Mercers’ Company

    This briefing draws on learning emerging from research led by the Evidence Based Practice Unit in collaboration with the Child Outcomes Research Consortium, The University of Manchester and Common Room. The Mercers’ Company funded the research. The Mercers’ Company is the Premier Livery Company of the City of London.

    Authors: Deighton, J., Stapley, E., Lereya, T., Burrell, K., Atkins, L. (2019).

    Download the open access paper

  • Children’s mental health in the time of coronavirus: what we know about what hurts and what helps

    • Why focus on children’s mental health at this time?
    • What has the impact been on young people’s mental wellbeing?
    • How can we best support children and young people’s mental health at this time?

    Download the open access resource

  • Unprecedented challenges and innovative responses: schools’ and colleges’ experiences of supporting mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic

    The primary challenges staff identified in supporting mental health and wellbeing varied across the timepoints. They include issues relating to logistics, the demand for support and the availability of support.

    Download the open access resource

  • Engaging students with wellbeing survey findings

    This document is designed to inspire and support education providers to engage students with wellbeing survey findings. It introduces approaches to sharing complex information with students in an accessible way and to gathering their responses. The insights gained can help improve education providers’ understanding of the findings. We have provided practice examples from sessions we ran using findings from the Wellbeing Measurement Framework (WMF) student wellbeing survey but the principles and practical guidance apply to findings from any student wellbeing survey.

    Download the open access resource

  • Evaluating programmes to support pupil mental health and wellbeing: examples from schools and colleges working with the Mercers' Company

    This briefing aims to describe an approach to monitoring and evaluating children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing in schools and colleges, as a means to provide better support. The IDEA (Intervention description, Design, Evaluation implementation, Analysis and reporting) approach is described, which gives practical steps to the development of approaches to evaluating support for mental health and wellbeing delivered in educational settings. Three evaluations that have adopted this approach are also summarised.

    Download the open access briefing

  • What do we know about mental health?

    An accessible resource on what we know about mental health.

    Download the open access resource

  • Mercers’ Wellbeing Evaluation Programme: final report (executive summary)

    The Mercers’ Wellbeing Evaluation Programme aimed to support Mercers’ Associated Schools and Colleges to evaluate their mental health and wellbeing provision. The programme was delivered in two phases between 2016 and 2022. The final report from the Mercers’ Wellbeing Evaluation Programme is available online. It summarises the learning and achievements of the programme’s second phase, setting these within the context of the programme as a whole.

    Download the open access summary

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