About the SSPESH:

What is the Survey of School Promotion of Emotional and Social Health (SSPESH)?

The Survey of School Promotion of Emotional and Social Health (SSPESH) is one component of the NSW Child Development Study (NSW-CDS).

The SSPESH is a brief online survey designed for completion by school leaders (Principals, Deputy Principals, etc.), to gather information about their school’s implementation of whole-school polices, practices, and programs to promote student mental health and wellbeing. This brief tool can guide school leaders in the identification of target areas for whole-school improvement in student mental health and wellbeing promotion.

In late 2015, the SSPESH was completed online by 598 primary school Principals (or delegate) from public, Catholic, and Independent schools in NSW that administered the Middle Childhood Survey of student mental health and wellbeing. Further detail regarding the demographic characteristics of participating schools can be found in our publication here. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Principals Australia Institute in providing the survey software that delivered the questionnaire to the Principals. We also gratefully acknowledge the support of the public, Catholic, and Independent school sectors in conducting the research, and the school Principals who participated in the study.

What does the SSPESH measure?

The SSPESH comprises two parts:

1. A 13-item survey that measures the extent to which a school has implemented policies and practices in four health-promoting domains:

(i) creating a positive school community
(ii) teaching social and emotional skills
(iii) engaging the parent community
(iv) supporting students experiencing mental health difficulties.

A scoring guide for the survey distinguishes high, moderate, and low levels of implementation in each of these four domains, as well as overall.

A copy of the survey tool and scoring guide can be downloaded here.

A paper describing the development of the survey tool and scoring guide can be downloaded here.

2. The second section of the SSPESH collects information on (up to five) whole-school social-emotional learning (SEL) programs or school wellbeing frameworks that are being delivered by schools. A drop-down list of more than 100 established SEL programs is provided, along with free text options allowing schools to list other programs. For each of the (up to) five SEL programs nominated, schools are asked to indicate when the program commenced, the year levels targeted by the program, and a rating of perceived program effectiveness.

How will the information be used?

We provide an administrable version of the SSPESH, along with a scoring key to support interpretation, here. This can be used by school leaders to identify target areas for whole-school improvement in mental health and wellbeing in their school community. School leaders can conduct a brief assessment of their school, using the threshold scores as a guide, to gain a comprehensive understanding of their current activities in promoting emotional and social health, benchmarked against other schools. This information can help schools evaluate the extent to which their programs are addressing each of the four health-promoting domains. This may help school leaders to identify where the school might benefit from a capacity-building intervention, such as those listed at the KidsMatter Primary and Mind Matters websites. The SSPESH may help establish a school’s readiness to work with external services and health professionals on its path to establishing community partnerships. The SSPESH might also be useful over time to monitor a school’s progress on implementation of whole-school mental health promotion initiatives.

Within the NSW Child Development Study, data from the SSPESH is currently being further analysed alongside information from the self-reported Middle Childhood Survey of mental health and wellbeing, completed by children when they were approximately 11 years of age, in the context of linked administrative records. This linked data will be used to examine the relationship between school-based implementation of policies, practices, and programs to promote student mental health and wellbeing and student emotional, social, academic, and other outcomes.