Work Packages

Work Package 1: Physical activity, school and mental health

Ingeborg Barth Vedøy, Sigmund Anderssen, Hege Tjomsland and Knut Skulberg

Physical activity is generally promoted for its positive effect on young people’s physical health. A growing body of evidence shows that physical activity may have positive effects on several mental health outcomes. There is also a strong belief that regular physical activity could contribute to enhanced academic achievement. Longitudinal studies exploring these associations, however, are relatively rare. There is also a need for studies exploring possible explanatory mechanisms for these relationships at both a school and individual level. The project aims to understand how physical activity might be related to mental health and academic achievement, and the role of schools therein.

The project will track pupils from 11 schools annually, from 8th grade to 10th grade. An online questionnaire will be used to collect data relating to key domains in young people’s lives, for example: health and health complaints; mental health; school and learning environment; leisure activities; relationships with family and peers. Physical activity will be measured objectively using accelerometry. Anthropological measurements will also be taken. School grades will be used as an outcome measure of achievement.

Work Package 2: Experiencing physical education in secondary school

Linda Røset, Ken Green, Thorsteinn Sigurjónsson and Lorraine Cale

Physical education (PE) – as a curriculum subject – has long been viewed as a setting for promoting young people’s health, including their mental health, as well as developing their physical and sporting capital. However, the extent to which PE, sport and physical activity are experienced positively by young people during their secondary school years in relatively under-researched, especially in Norway. Young people’s views on their experiences of PE can shed light on how the organization, assessment and social relations between young people and between young pupil and staff might influence mental health. This forms the focus of Work package 2.

Focus groups with young people in 10th grade, alongside observations of PE will provide the data for this project. The research has the potential to inform developments in PE teacher education as well as the form and delivery of school PE more broadly.


Work package 3: Supporting young people’s mental health in school


Ellen Nesset Mælan, Hege Tjomsland, Børge Baklien, Oddrun Samdal and Miranda Thurston

Schools in general, and teachers in particular, are increasingly expected to have a role in promoting young people’s mental health, alongside their primary educational responsibilities. Adolescence is a period of transition during which young people can experience mental health difficulties, which, if unmet, can lead to a variety of negative outcomes, including under-achievement and drop-out, further reinforcing distress. Although head teachers and teachers have a potentially important role to play, how they negotiate this role alongside their formal everyday roles in teaching and learning has been under-researched. Thus, the focus of this work package is on understanding how schools respond to young people experiencing mental health issues and support their learning, including how and when they involve other services and parents. In particular, the research focuses on the everyday life of the school and the processes of teaching and learning, which can both challenge and support young people’s mental health development. A mixed methods approach will be used to include survey data, observations, in-depth interviews and focus groups with key stakeholder groups.

Ellen completed her PhD-project on March 29th 2019.

Work Package 4: Evidence-based school development

Nina Grieg Viig, Hege Tjomsland and Miranda Thurston

Work Package 4 contributes to the dissemination strategy for the Schools, Learning and Mental Health project. In particular, the aim is to bring the research closer to everyday practice in schools. This will be done in an exploratory and participatory way and through a process of dialogue with schools.