School connectedness

  • The role of school connectedness in the prevention of youth depression and anxiety: a systematic review with youth consultation

    Background and aims

    Despite investment in school-based prevention for youth depression and anxiety in recent decades, there is a dearth of scalable interventions with large effects that are sustained over time. Novel approaches to prevention that recognise schools as social and learning environments, rather than solely a platform for delivering a low-dose of individually oriented interventions, are urgently needed. Accumulating evidence suggests that school connectedness, including students’ thoughts (e.g., perceptions of relationships with teachers and peers), feelings (e.g., around sense of belonging), and behaviours (e.g., participation in school activities) towards the school environment and learning experiences, is associated with greater academic achievement and psychological wellbeing. However, the extent to which school connectedness may prevent the onset of depression or anxiety or promote their remission is unclear. We conducted a systematic review of the evidence for 1) prospective relationships between school connectedness and depression and anxiety, and 2) the effect of interventions to improve school connectedness on depression and anxiety.


    Dr Monika Raniti (Lead)

    Professor George Patton

    Professor Susan Sawyer

    Divyangana Rakesh (Research Assistant)

    Jackson Smith, Clara Tambunan, Mary Patricia Lou Vinluan, Nuha Yahya, and Mac Zamani (Youth advisers based in Australia, Indonesia and The Philippines)


    Wellcome Trust Mental Health 'Active Ingredients' 2021 commission -

    Key papers / outputs

    The Mental Elf |  School connectedness, anxiety and depression: recent evidence and young people’s perspectives #ActiveIngredientsMH

    Wellcome. (2022). What science has shown can help young people with anxiety and depression. Identifying and reviewing the 'active ingredients' of effective interventions: Part 2. Zenodo.

    Raniti, M., Rakesh, D., Patton, G. C., & Sawyer, S. M. (2022). The role of school connectedness in the prevention of youth depression and anxiety: a systematic review with youth consultation. BMC Public Health22(1), 1-24.


    The Conversation, published November 28, 2022. Research suggests one way to prevent depression and anxiety is a strong sense of connection at high school

    Murdoch Children's Research Institute, published November 27, 2022. Positive social-emotional environments in schools boosts student’s mental health.


    Further information

    For further information please contact Dr Monika Raniti