The impact of a classroom management programme on children’s mental health

Tamsin Ford and colleagues evaluated the effectiveness of the Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management (IYTCM) programme. The IYTCM programme aims to improve teachers’ classroom management skills and build strong relationships with students and their parents. Teachers are trained to ignore low-level bad behaviour that often disrupts classrooms and instead develop effective behaviour plans that encourage and promote emotional regulation skills.

The study, published in Psychological Medicine, used a cluster randomised controlled trial, in which children ages four to nine from schools across the southwest of England were randomly allocated to undertake the IYTCM programme or continue their usual practice over a 30-month period (with outcomes assessed at 9, 18, and 30 months). One class in each of 80 schools (40 IYTCM, 40 usual practice; 2,075 children in total) participated. Effects of the intervention on students’ mental health were assessed via the Total Difficulties score from the teacher-report version of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Data on a range of secondary outcomes (e.g., children’s disruptive behaviour, service use), was also collected in addition to detailing the costs of IYTCM compared to usual practice.

The report concludes that IYTCM may provide a small short-term improvement to children’s mental health, particularly for children who are already struggling. The results of the trial showed there was a small reduction in the SDQ Total Difficulties score at 9 months, but not at 18 or 30 months.

Source: The effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the Incredible Years® Teacher Classroom Management programme in primary school children: Results of the STARS cluster randomised controlled trial. Psychological Medicine, 1-15.

Childhood bullying leads to ill health as an adult

The effects of bullying last well into adulthood, according to a study in Psychological Medicine.

The authors used data from the National Child Development Study, which followed more than 17,000 people born in 1958. Parents were asked whether their children had been bullied when they were aged 7 and 11. When these children then reached 45, they were tested for various health markers focusing on obesity and inflammatory processes, such as C-reactive protein (CRP). Raised levels of CRP have been linked to a higher risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension.

At age 45, study participants who had experienced bullying victimisation had higher levels of inflammation than their non-bullied peers, and women who had been bullied were more likely to be obese. The findings were independent of the effects of correlated childhood risks (such as parental social class and childhood BMI) and key adult risk factors (such as smoking and diet).

Bullying has previously been shown to have an impact on adult mental health. The authors argue that these findings showing an impact on physical health add impetus to the importance of early intervention to stop bullying activity.

Source: Bullying Victimization in Childhood Predicts Inflammation and Obesity at Mid-life: A Five-decade Birth Cohort Study (2015), Psychological Medicine.