Examples of interventions
Interventions to promote mental wellbeing and prevent mental illness
These pages aim to provide pointers to evidence-based interventions to promote mental wellbeing and prevent mental illness. The website will continually be developed, so more materials will be added here – this is just a beginning to help get you started. Please also see the resources section for further information.
Targeted or universal?
When deciding what interventions to pursue, the question often arises: should we focus on targeted or universal interventions? Research often shows that the prevention of mental illness is achieved more effectively when programmes aim to promote mental wellbeing at population level. And as unhealthy lifestyles, chronic illness and social inequality are underpinned in some ways by psychological distress, the universal promotion of mental wellbeing can address all of these public health agendas.
For example, suboptimal parenting that is less damaging than abuse or neglect is distributed across the social spectrum. Targeting, though attractive, can be inefficient because identification of high risk groups is not easy and can increase stigma. Current policy recommends universal underpinning and targeted provision, where appropriate, for identifiable high-risk groups.
Both targeted and universal approaches are included in these pages.
Bear in mind when considering interventions that successful implementation can depend on following closely the approaches as developed, researched, evaluated and refined.
For discussion of the issues involved, please see the Good Start in Life pages, including the pages on parenting programmes, school mental health promotion and policy context, where specific interventions are discussed.
- NICE Guidance on promotion of emotional and social wellbeing in vulnerable under 5s (PH40)
- NICE Guidance on Prevention and Treatment of Conduct Disorders
- Stewart-Brown S, Scharder-McMillan A . Parenting for mental health: what does the evidence say we need to do? Report of Workpackage 2 of the DataPrev project. Health Promotion International 2011; 26:i10-i28
- Stewart-Brown S, Schrader MacMillan A. Promoting the mental health of children and parents: evidence and outcomes for home and community based parenting support interventions. Report of Workpackage 2 of the DataPrev project European Community 6th Framework Research Programme SP5A-CT-2007-044145
- Adi Y, Killoran A, Schrader-McMillan A, Stewart-Brown S. Systematic review of interventions to promote mental wellbeing in children in primary education focusing on violence and antisocial behaviour: a report to the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence 2007
- Barlow J, Schrader-McMillan A, Carter Y, Paul M, Sidebotham P, Stewart-Brown S. Systematic review of the effectiveness of interventions in the treatment of emotional abuse, Department of Health, England. 2008
- Tennant R, Goens C, Barlow J, Day C, Stewart-Brown S. A systematic review of reviews of interventions to promote mental health and prevent mental health problems in children and young people. Journal of Public Mental Health 2007;6(1):25-32 ISSN 1746-5729 (WRAP)
- DataPrev project on effective interventions
- Healthy Child Programme: Pregnancy and the First Five Years of Life
- National Academy for Parenting Research
Interventions to support children and young people, many of them in school settings.
- NICE guidance - social and emotional wellbeing in primary education (PH12)
- NICE guidance - social and emotional wellbeing in secondary education (PH20)
- Safe and Sound – an educational leader’s guide to evidence based SEL (social and emotional learning) programs
– And the update to Safe and Sound, the CASEL guide 2013
- DataPrev project on effective interventions
- Stewart-Brown, S. What is the evidence on school health promotion in improving health or preventing disease and, specifically, what is the effectiveness of the health promoting schools approach. Copenhagen. Editors: WHO Regional Office for Europe Health. 2006
- Evidence Network (HEN), Health Evidence Network report
- Wells J, Barlow J, Stewart-Brown S. A systematic review of universal approaches to mental health promotion in schools. Health Education 2003; 103:197-220
- Weare K, Nind M. Mental health promotion and problem prevention in schools: what does the evidence say? Evidence Outcomes Report of Workpackage 3 of the DavaPrev project. 2011
- New Economics Foundation (NEF) Five Ways to Wellbeing.
- NEF was commissioned by the government's Foresight project to develop a set of evidence-based actions to improve personal wellbeing: Five Ways to Wellbeing: the Evidence.
- The results of a scoping exercise to see how the Five Ways are being used outlines arguments for a population-wide approach to mental health promotion and provides more detail about the Foresight report and development of the Five Ways to Wellbeing.
- Understanding the Barriers to Raising Population Wellbeing
- Getting on… with life: Baby boomers, mental health and ageing well
- NHS Wellbeing Self-Assessment Toolkit. This tool uses WEMWBS, a scale which is often used by scientists and psychologists to measure wellbeing, to give a wellbeing score. With the score, it offers a range of resources and information across each of the NEF five-ways-to-wellbeing indicators.
- NICE PH22 Promoting mental wellbeing at work (PH22). Guidance for employers on promoting mental wellbeing through productive and healthy working conditions.
- Mental health and work position statement, 2007, FPH.
- Dame Carol Black, Working for a healthier tomorrow. Identifies challenges and sets out recommendations for reform on health, work and wellbeing.
- Healthy working lives, NHS Health Scotland. Aims to help employers create healthier workforces.
- Body and Soul. Explores the inter-relationship between long term physical and mental health conditions and the impact these conditions have on productivity and work participation, how to reduce the burden of these conditions on the UK economy and workforce.
- Workplace mental health strategies. Sick on the Job? Myths and Realities about Mental Health at Work OECD.
- NICE guidance on mental wellbeing and older people (PH16)
- Older people: independence and mental wellbeing
- Mental wellbeing of older people in care homes
- Quick guide to promoting positive mental wellbeing for older people
- Dementia: a public health priority (WHO)
- Mental health and wellbeing in later life. Includes a section on dementia prevention
This section is under development – future information will include topics such as increasing access to green spaces, improving the built environment and asset based approaches to community development.