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Focusing on sleep as an indirect intervention to address anxiety and depression

Teenagers' sleep is a crucial aspect of their mental health and well-being. Poor sleep quality and duration can have a significant impact on their physical and emotional health, as well as academic performance. Research has also shown a clear link between poor sleep and an increased risk of mental health problems in teenagers, including depression and anxiety.

The study from Clinical Psychology in Europe (2021) highlights the importance of addressing both sleep and mental health issues simultaneously. The study proposes the use of indirect interventions to address sleep as a way to improve mental health outcomes in teenagers as it may be less confronting and stigmatising to the student. Interventions include changing behaviours and environmental factors that may negatively affect sleep, such as reducing screen time before bed, creating a comfortable sleep environment, and practicing relaxation techniques.

Schools' well-being teams have an essential role to play in promoting healthy sleep habits among students as part of a holistic approach to mental health. One effective strategy is to provide information and education on the importance of sleep, including the benefits of getting enough sleep and the risks associated with poor sleep. This can be done through school assemblies, workshops, or online resources.

Additionally, schools can promote healthy sleep habits by addressing the social and environmental factors that can interfere with sleep. This includes addressing issues such as excessive academic workload, early start times, and social pressure to stay up late. Schools can work with students and families to create a sleep-friendly environment and encourage healthy sleep habits. Other evidence-based techniques may also include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) which has been shown to improve sleep quality and duration in teenagers. CBT-I can be provided by school counsellors, or the use of e-therapies and online tools.

In addition to these strategies, schools' well-being teams can also use indirect interventions to promote healthy sleep habits among students. These interventions can include teaching students relaxation techniques, promoting regular exercise, and providing guidance on healthy eating habits.

Schools' well-being teams can also help identify and support students who are experiencing sleep problems that are linked to mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression. They can work with the student and their family to develop a plan that addresses both the sleep issue and the underlying mental health concern.

By using evidence-based strategies, including indirect interventions, and addressing environmental and behavioural factors that impact sleep, schools' well-being teams can help ensure that all students have the opportunity to thrive. To learn more about the relationship between sleep and mental health in teenagers, read the article from Clinical Psychology in Europe:


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