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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  • HeadStart heads up briefing 3: How are systems change and sustainability being approached in HeadStart?

    Eight interviews relating to perceptions of sustainability and systems change were conducted with representatives from the six HeadStart partnerships, the HeadStart Learning Team, and The National Lottery Community Fund (2019).

    Download this HeadStart heads up briefing

  • HeadStart heads up briefing 4: Young people's perspectives on social support and coping strategies (a COVID-19-relevant output)

    We give an overview of the types of activities and strategies that young people described using and finding helpful in relation to dealing with difficult feelings and situations. The briefing draws on interviews with young people across three years (2020).

    Download this HeadStart heads up briefing

  • HeadStart heads up briefing 5: Gender differences, improving support, and talking about mental health: learning from the 2020 HeadStart conference

    This briefing draws on table discussions at the HeadStart Learning 2020 conference, which took place in February 2020. The event was a collaboration between the HeadStart Learning Team and The National Lottery Community Fund, with substantial input from young people involved in HeadStart from across the six partnerships (2020). 

    Download this HeadStart heads up briefing

  • HeadStart heads up briefing 6: Targeted interventions in HeadStart: how do HeadStart partnerships support the mental health of young people, and do they reach those in need?

    In this briefing, we aim to illustrate the range of targeted interventions offered by six local authority led partnerships through the HeadStart programme. We also investigate whether these interventions reached young people with higher needs in terms of their mental health and wellbeing (2022). 

    Download this HeadStart heads up briefing

  • HeadStart heads up briefing 7: Mental health problems and subjective wellbeing: are they influenced by the same things?

    In this study, we focused on mental health problems and subjective wellbeing, which were measured in Year 8. We measured mental health problems with the emotional and behavioural difficulties subscales of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (2022).

    Download this HeadStart heads up briefing

  • HeadStart evidence briefing 1: Mental health problems in young people, aged 11 to 14: results from the first HeadStart annual survey of 30,000 children

    This report explores the data related to the prevalence of mental health problems in young people. It investigates how this varies by demographics such as gender, ethnicity, special educational needs status, free school meal eligibility and child in need status.

    Authors: Deighton, J., Lereya, T., Patalay, P., Casey, P., Humphrey, N., & Wolpert, M. (2018). 

    Download this HeadStart briefing

  • HeadStart evidence briefing 2: HeadStart year 1: national qualitative evaluation findings - young people's perspectives

    This document describes learning from the first year of the HeadStart programme, drawing on the first timepoint of research interviews conducted with young people at the HeadStart partnerships, as part of the qualitative evaluation of HeadStart led by EBPU.

    Authors: Stapley,  E., Deighton, J. (2018).

    Download this HeadStart briefing

  • HeadStart evidence briefing 3: The relationship between mental health and school attainment, attendance and exclusions in young people aged 11 to 14

    Public facing summary of ‘Mental health and academic outputs’ looks at the relationship between mental health, attainment and attendance, using baseline data (2019).

    Authors: Lereya, T., Deighton, J. (2019).

    Download this HeadStart briefing

  • HeadStart evidence briefing 4: Does social action help young people with emerging mental health issues?

    This study aimed to evaluate Team Social Action (TSA), which is a targeted intervention run in schools by Headstart Newham. Strand 1 employed a waitlist randomised controlled trial (RCT) and strand 2 involved qualitative interviews with pupils and staff, to evaluate whether TSA had a positive and significant impact on young people’s wellbeing, school connection, and peer support.
    Authors: Gill, V., Panayiotou, M., Demkowicz, O., Humphrey, N. (2019). 
  • HeadStart evidence briefing 5: Whole school approaches to promoting mental health: what does the evidence say?

    This briefing is about using a whole school approach to promote mental health. Such approaches are a characteristic feature of HeadStart and are also encouraged in advice published by the Department for Education.

    Authors: Demkowicz, O., Humphrey, N. (2019).

    Download this HeadStart briefing

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