REACH – Resilience, Ethnicity, Adolescence and Mental Health

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What is this study?

REACH is a research programme, funded by the European Union. It is being conducted by researchers from King’s College London, led by Professor Craig Morgan from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IOPPN) within the Society and Mental Health research group. It is a five year programme which will look at risk and resilience factors among secondary school aged children in London (aged 11 to 16). The study team will use surveys with young people as well as follow-up interviews with a smaller group of kids to explore emerging themes. The schools participating in the study will all service diverse communities.


Why is this research important?

We need to know a lot more about why people develop mental health problems, and the resources in people’s lives that can help and hinder good mental health. Cohort studies like REACH can collect data sets which when combined with other information are extremely helpful in taking our knowledge forward, and helping shape innovations to improve both our responses to distress in the clinic, classroom, household or community centre and preventative strategies.


How is McPin involved?

We supported Professor Craig Morgan and his team, including an advisory group with head teacher and senior school leadership, academic and young people representation, to set the study up. Our main role was engaging with young people and young adults to develop study materials and recruitment processes that will best enable kids to take part. We held a workshop with young people aged 14-16 and have had several meetings with 16-25 year olds to choose a study logo and prepare the research ethics application. Having set up the young people’s group the management of the public involvement has moved into the research team. We are still part of the study steering group.


What did we find?

The study started September 2015 and ran for 5 years. The weighted prevalence of mental health problems was 18.6%. Each type of mental health problem was more common among girls compared with boys. Gender differences were more pronounced in older cohorts compared with the youngest. Mental health problems and self-harm – but not depression or anxiety – were more common among those receiving (vs not receiving) FSM (Free School Meals). There were many similarities, with some variations, by ethnic group.

From these findings, it was concluded that adolescent mental health problems and self-harm are common in inner city London. Gender differences in mental health problems may emerge during early adolescence.


For the results of the study in full you can read the report here.

You can read a blog, and listen to a podcast from the REACH team, along with school staff and young people, on how to do great research in schools here, or listen below:


McPin Foundation · How to do great research with schools

Download the supporting guide on putting schools, young people and communities at the heart of research for more:



Who do I contact for more information?

If you would like information about REACH please do contact Prof Morgan at the IOPPN.