Evidence Based Practice Unit


About HeadStart and the Learning Team


HeadStart is a five-year programme set up by The National Lottery Community Fund which aims to improve the mental wellbeing of 10 to 16 year olds and prevent serious mental health issues before the develop.

Using National Lottery funding, HeadStart Partnerships in Blackpool, Cornwall, Hull, Kent, Newham and Wolverhampton are piloting new approaches to build young people's emotional resilience.

A wide range of interventions are being trialled in schools and the community at each site.

School interventions include whole school, year group and class level support, such as education around what mental health is and what to do when experiencing a mental health problem.

Other interventions, such as one-to-one counselling sessions, are for particular groups of young people e.g. those who are at higher risk of developing a mental health problem.


HeadStart Learning Team

Dr Jess Deighton
Dr Jessica Deighton at EBPU is leading a consortium of partners to evaluate and share learning from HeadStart, a five-year programme set up by The National Lottery Community Fund which aims to improve the mental wellbeing of 10- to 16-year-olds and prevent serious mental health issues before they develop.


Partners include Common Room, the University of Manchester, the Child Outcomes Research Consortium (CORC) and London School of Economics.

The team is using a mixture of questionnaire and interview methods.

Young people complete questionnaires every year to help track changes in how they are feeling and behaving over time. Professionals provide information regularly about what is being offered.

Professionals and young people take part in interviews annually to explore challenges and opportunities around delivery and what young people find helpful.

The Learning Team have developed the Wellbeing Measurement Framework (WMF), a suite of measurement booklets for primary school, secondary school and college students. Schools provide a key setting for support and intervention with regard to young people's mental wellbeing and problems, across all age groups, and each WMF is a comprehensive and practical package of validated measures that are designed to assess a range of mental health indices including positive wellbeing, behavioural or emotional difficulties, and the present and strength of protective factors.