Children and Families Policy Research Unit


NIHR Children and Families Policy Research Unit


Early intervention for mental health of 10–16 year olds

Examining the impact of funded area-level interventions across England (April 2019 – March 2022)

25 April 2019

Principal investigator

Dr Jess Deighton


Professor Jane Barlow and Professor Steve Morris


Dr Tanya Lereya and Dr Emily Stapley


Early interventions for children across the life course and their families (link to theme page)


This project examines early intervention for mental health in children. It will do this through access to a unique dataset of children aged 10-16 across areas involved in a large-scale initiative (HeadStart) designed to support locally developed models of early intervention. These models are co-produced with the children themselves, in six areas of high deprivation across England: Newham, Hull, Blackpool, Wolverhampton, Cornwall and Kent.


To answer four key research questions:

  1. How effective are area-funded school-based early intervention initiatives for promoting mental health in early adolescence?
  2. What is the lived experience of those who are the focus of area-level initiatives?
  3. What are the best ways to measure and use cost-effectiveness data at an area-level for school-based interventions for promoting mental health in adolescence?
  4. What is the best methodology for evaluating early programmatic interventions for children and their families which can be applied to projects across the lifespan?