Research Topic

How Can Education Better Support the Mental Health & Wellbeing of Young People? Contributions from Developmental Psychopathology & Educational Effectiveness Research

About this Research Topic

It is increasingly recognized that educational professionals, institutions, systems, and policies can make a significant contribution to the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people. This growing awareness is evident across multiple professions within education, health, and social work, across multiple academic disciplines (including psychology, education, public health, psychiatry), and within policy initiatives at both national and super-national levels. However, decades of disparate professional engagement with this issue has fostered ‘silo-thinking’ across professions and disparate bodies of knowledge across different fields of research. As a result, interdisciplinary research efforts to date have been fractured and slowed. Greater effort is needed to produce novel interdisciplinary research if educational professionals, institutions, systems, and policies are to fulfil their potential towards supporting the mental health and wellbeing of young people.

The aim of this Research Topic is to contribute to a growing body of knowledge regarding the impact that educational settings can have on the mental health of young people. This Research Topic aims to make this contribution by reuniting two fields of research: Developmental Psychopathology and Educational Effectiveness. Educational Effectiveness Research reveals ‘what works’ in education while Developmental Psychopathology unravels the processes behind the emergence of psychological disorders that include: Autistic Spectrum Disorders, internalizing disorders (e.g., depression, anxiety), externalizing disorders (e.g., ADHD, ODD), psychopathy, and schizophrenia.

Formative work in the 1970s bridged these two fields. This is particularly clear within the Fifteen Thousand Hours investigation by Rutter, Maughan, Mortimore, and Ouston, and in the Isle of Wight Studies by Rutter, Tizard, and Whitmore. Both projects considered the impacts of schools on the mental health of their students and both explored mental health within high risk groups. However, forty years later, the bodies of research produced by these fields have fractured; this despite both fields adopting systems perspectives to unravel the complex interactions that underlie the development of young people (including their mental health).

By bringing together investigations that span the shared interests and methods of both fields (e.g., differentiating the developmental impacts of background factors vs. day-to-day interactions) we hope to foster a better understanding of how education can support young people’s mental health and wellbeing. Indeed, recent commentaries in both Developmental Psychopathology and Educational Effectiveness Research have called for more interdisciplinary research to advance agendas that are mutually informative.

This Research Topic is a response to such calls and aims to foster new knowledge that will enable education to better achieve its potential towards supporting the mental health and wellbeing of young people. We welcome papers that bridge theory and findings across these fields via original research, reviews, and/or commentaries. Example summaries of recent theories include, Chicchetti’s 2015 article, “Developmental psychopathology, theory and method” and, Scheerens’s, 2015 article, “Theories on educational effectiveness and ineffectiveness”. We especially welcome empirical papers that demonstrate educational policies and/or practices that are effective towards supporting the mental health of young people and towards mitigating the processes that lead to psychological disorders.


Keywords: Developmental Psychopathology, Educational Effectiveness, Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Education Policy, Public Mental Health


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

It is increasingly recognized that educational professionals, institutions, systems, and policies can make a significant contribution to the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people. This growing awareness is evident across multiple professions within education, health, and social work, across multiple academic disciplines (including psychology, education, public health, psychiatry), and within policy initiatives at both national and super-national levels. However, decades of disparate professional engagement with this issue has fostered ‘silo-thinking’ across professions and disparate bodies of knowledge across different fields of research. As a result, interdisciplinary research efforts to date have been fractured and slowed. Greater effort is needed to produce novel interdisciplinary research if educational professionals, institutions, systems, and policies are to fulfil their potential towards supporting the mental health and wellbeing of young people.

The aim of this Research Topic is to contribute to a growing body of knowledge regarding the impact that educational settings can have on the mental health of young people. This Research Topic aims to make this contribution by reuniting two fields of research: Developmental Psychopathology and Educational Effectiveness. Educational Effectiveness Research reveals ‘what works’ in education while Developmental Psychopathology unravels the processes behind the emergence of psychological disorders that include: Autistic Spectrum Disorders, internalizing disorders (e.g., depression, anxiety), externalizing disorders (e.g., ADHD, ODD), psychopathy, and schizophrenia.

Formative work in the 1970s bridged these two fields. This is particularly clear within the Fifteen Thousand Hours investigation by Rutter, Maughan, Mortimore, and Ouston, and in the Isle of Wight Studies by Rutter, Tizard, and Whitmore. Both projects considered the impacts of schools on the mental health of their students and both explored mental health within high risk groups. However, forty years later, the bodies of research produced by these fields have fractured; this despite both fields adopting systems perspectives to unravel the complex interactions that underlie the development of young people (including their mental health).

By bringing together investigations that span the shared interests and methods of both fields (e.g., differentiating the developmental impacts of background factors vs. day-to-day interactions) we hope to foster a better understanding of how education can support young people’s mental health and wellbeing. Indeed, recent commentaries in both Developmental Psychopathology and Educational Effectiveness Research have called for more interdisciplinary research to advance agendas that are mutually informative.

This Research Topic is a response to such calls and aims to foster new knowledge that will enable education to better achieve its potential towards supporting the mental health and wellbeing of young people. We welcome papers that bridge theory and findings across these fields via original research, reviews, and/or commentaries. Example summaries of recent theories include, Chicchetti’s 2015 article, “Developmental psychopathology, theory and method” and, Scheerens’s, 2015 article, “Theories on educational effectiveness and ineffectiveness”. We especially welcome empirical papers that demonstrate educational policies and/or practices that are effective towards supporting the mental health of young people and towards mitigating the processes that lead to psychological disorders.


Keywords: Developmental Psychopathology, Educational Effectiveness, Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Education Policy, Public Mental Health


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

15 January 2018 Abstract
02 May 2018 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

15 January 2018 Abstract
02 May 2018 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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