Factors Affecting Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing: Findings from the Realigning Children’s Services Wellbeing Surveys (2015-2017)

A new report which explores children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing has been published today. This considers the risk and protective factors associated with emotional and behavioural problems and positive mental wellbeing among children and young people in Primary 5 to Secondary 4, using survey data from the first two tranches of the Realigning Children’s Services programme.

The analysis was based on more than 56,000 primary and secondary pupils in five Scottish local authorities; Clackmannanshire, South Lanarkshire, West Lothian, Falkirk and North Lanarkshire. It looked at the contribution of numerous factors in different domains to mental health and wellbeing outcomes.

It found that:

  • Pupils were more likely to have positive mental health and wellbeing if they were exposed to protective factors including positive interactions and relationships with family members, friends, teachers and school peers .
  • Pupils were more vulnerable to emotional and behavioural problems if they were exposed to specific risk factors which included being socially isolated or excluded; feeling negatively towards school or worried by schoolwork; or having a lack of positive family relationships.
  • Most school pupils had generally positive experiences with their family, school, peers, area and health, although significant minorities of young people experienced multiple risk factors in relation to these.


The findings echo those of other key research, including a rapid literature review on trends in adolescent wellbeing in Scotland and the See Me research on young people’s views on mental health and wellbeing.

These findings allow us to gain a better understanding of some of the factors that may influence poor mental health in children and young people. They provide statistically robust evidence to underpin policies and targeted approaches aimed at improving mental health outcomes in specific vulnerable groups. It particularly highlights the crucial importance of policies that promote positive relationships.

Read the full report on the Scottish Government website

Additionally, de-identified details from the first two tranches of RCS is now available on the UK Data Archive. This allows other research groups to make use of this rich resource and explore key aspects of children and young people’s health and wellbeing in Scotland. The data set includes a wealth of measures over a range of domains.