Review: Delivering mental health support within schools and colleges – a thematic synthesis of barriers and facilitators to implementation of indicated psychological interventions for adolescents

Brioney Gee, Jon Wilson, Tim Clarke, Sophie Farthing, Ben Carroll, Christopher Jackson, Kahfee King, Jamie Murdoch, Peter Fonagy, Caitlin Notley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Increasing the role of schools and colleges in the provision of mental health services for young people has the potential to improve early intervention and access to treatment. We aimed to understand what factors influence the successful implementation of indicated psychological interventions within schools and colleges to help guide increased provision of mental health support within education settings. Methods: Systematic search for studies that have reported barriers or facilitators to the implementation of indicated interventions for adolescent emotional disorders delivered within schools and further education/sixth form colleges (CRD42018102830). Databases searched were EMBASE, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, British Nursing Index, ASSIA, ERIC and British Education Index. A thematic synthesis of factors reported to impact implementation was conducted. Results: Two thousand five hundred and sixty-nine records and 177 full texts were screened. Fifty studies were identified for inclusion, all of which were of school-based interventions. Eleven analytic themes were developed encompassing intervention characteristics, organisational capacity, training and technical assistance, provider characteristics and community-level factors. Findings indicate the need to select appropriate interventions, consider logistical challenges of the school context and provide training and supervision to enable staff to deliver interventions with fidelity. However, structural and environmental support is required for these facilitators to have the greatest impact on successful implementation. Conclusions: Implementing indicated school-based mental health interventions is challenging. Those involved in planning school-based mental health initiatives must be alert to the impact of factors on multiple interacting levels. There is a lack of research on implementing mental health support within further education and sixth form colleges.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-46
Number of pages13
JournalChild and Adolescent Mental Health
Issue number1
Early online date10 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • adolescent
  • implementation
  • Mental health
  • school
  • school-based

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