A major wellbeing survey for 9-18 year olds for thousands of school and college students is about to launch.
Researchers at the University of Oxford are encouraging schools and colleges in four areas of the country to sign up to be part of the OxWell Student Survey, which provides a snapshot into the lives of young people by asking them directly about their mental health and wellbeing.
Schools and colleges in Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Milton Keynes and Liverpool are being encouraged to take part for free.
The survey, which takes place every two years, will include new questions on the cost of living crisis and eating and dietary habits It will open on February 21st for one month.
The last survey in 2021 saw more than 30,000 young people from 180 schools take part and highlighted issues like bullying, mental wellbeing, children’s views on support following self-harm, and even the Covid-19 vaccine. Some of its findings hit the headlines, including that one in three young people actually felt happier in the first lockdown, and playing hours of video games does not negatively impact most adolescents’ wellbeing.
The survey data is shared with participating schools and colleges, as well as local and national authorities to help them better respond to the needs of their children and young people, and has resulted in changes to local health and education plans.
Professor Mina Fazel, who leads the research at Oxford University, presented some of the previous survey’s findings at Number 10 Downing Street last year.
She said: “The mental health and wellbeing of children is an increasingly pressing concern and this survey gives us a vital and detailed insight into their health and happiness.
“We ask children directly about their worries and what support they would like to have, but this is not just about getting information, it is also about translating those findings into practical measures and plans that improve their mental health and wellbeing. That’s why the more children we get taking part, the better.
“Each year children and young people’s needs and interests change which is why we make sure the survey reflects the issues that may be impacting their lives at that moment – and this year we will include questions on how the cost of living crisis may be affecting them.
Councillor Mark Lygo, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Equalities, says: “We know that the past few years have been turbulent for many young people, and there’s no doubt this will have had an impact on the mental wellbeing of many.
“We hope that this survey will help to provide us with another insight into the wellbeing of young people. The data will help us to inform our work and better meet the needs of children and young people in Oxfordshire.”
The OxWell Survey is a partnership between pupils, schools, local authorities and the OxWell Study Team at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford. It is supported by the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration Oxford and Thames Valley.
Children aged between nine and 18 years old in participating schools are eligible to take part.
Schools and colleges can sign up at: www.oxwell.org/schools-colleges
The first results will be available later this summer.