This report presents the mental wellbeing findings from the 2015 wave of the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey ( SALSUS). The research was commissioned by the Scottish Government and carried out by Ipsos MORI Scotland.
Survey background and purpose
SALSUS is a continuation of a long established series of national surveys on smoking, drinking and drug use. These were carried out jointly in Scotland and England between 1982 and 2000, to provide a national picture of young peoples' smoking (from 1982), drinking (from 1990), and drug use (from 1998) behaviours within the context of other lifestyle, health and social factors. Since 2002, Scotland has developed its own, more tailored survey, known as SALSUS.
About the survey
SALSUS is a self-completion survey administered by teachers in a mixed ability class, under exam conditions. In the past the survey has been completed on paper, but in 2015 half of the sample completed the survey online. Fieldwork was undertaken between September 2015 and January 2016.
Figure 1: Numbers sampled and participated
The overall response rate was 53% based on class and pupil response rate  .
For full details of the methodology please see the accompanying SALSUS 2015 Technical Report.
This report explores emotional and behavioural problems and mental wellbeing variables from SALSUS 2015. It covers trends in emotional and behavioural problems and mental wellbeing and looks at the relationship between these findings and other survey variables.
Emotional and behavioural problems
- Emotional and behavioural problems were measured in the survey using the Goodman Strengths and Difficulties questionnaire  . The questionnaire comprises 25 items that are grouped into 5 scales, with each scale including 5 questions. The scales are: emotional symptoms; conduct problems; hyperactivity/inattention; peer relationship problems; and pro-social behaviour. A total difficulties scores was calculated as an overall measure of emotional and behavioural problems by summing the scores, excluding pro-social behaviour.
- Overall, the trends in emotional and behavioural problems over time have been mixed, depending both on the type of problem encountered and on the age and gender of pupils.
- There has been a slight decrease in the percentage of pupils with a normal total difficulties SDQ score between 2010 and 2015 and a slight increase in the percentage of pupils with an abnormal score.
- The proportion of pupils with a borderline or abnormal score on the conduct scale decreased between 2006 and 2015. In contrast, the proportion of pupils with a borderline or abnormal score on the emotional problems scale, and to a lesser extent the peer problems scale, increased between 2006 and 2015.
- 15 year old girls were considerably more likely than any other sub-group to have a borderline or abnormal emotional problems score.
- Across all groups, with the exception of 15 year old girls, the proportion who had a borderline or abnormal scores increased between 2013 and 2015.
- The percentage of pupils with a normal pro-social score has slowly increased since 2006. In 2006, 68% of pupils had a normal score, compared with 75% in 2013. Since 2013 there has been no further change.
- Mental wellbeing was measured using the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale ( WEMWBS)  . Developed as a tool for measuring mental wellbeing at a population level, the scale comprises 14 positively worded statements that relate to an individual's state of mental wellbeing (thoughts and feelings). Pupils were asked to indicate how often they have had such thoughts and feelings over the last two weeks. Each statement has a five item scale ranging from '1 - None of the time' to '5 - All of the time'.
- Overall, mental wellbeing scores have remained relatively stable over time with little change in average WEMWBS scores.
- The average  WEMWBS score for all pupils decreased slightly between 2010 and 2013 from 50.0 to 48.7. Between 2013 and 2015, there has been only a very minor decrease in the score to 48.4 which suggests that there have been no major shifts in mental wellbeing among 13 and 15 year olds.
- For 13 and 15 year old boys, there has been little change in the average WEMWBS scores between 2013 and 2015. There has been a greater change in scores for 13 year old girls and 15 year old girls.
Emotional and behavioural problems, mental wellbeing and SIMD
- There was a clear link between SIMD and emotional and behavioural problems and mental wellbeing. Pupils who lived in the least deprived SIMD were less likely than those in the most deprived areas to have a borderline or abnormal total difficulties score and to have a higher mean WEMWBS score.
Emotional and behavioural problems, mental wellbeing and family circumstances
- A pupil's family structure was associated with emotional and behavioural problems and mental wellbeing. Pupils who live with both parents were less likely than those in other family situations to have a borderline or abnormal total difficulties score and had higher mean WEMWBS scores.
- Around 10% of pupils had caring responsibilities at home. Pupils who did were considerably more likely to have a borderline or abnormal total difficulties score as well as having lower mean WEMWBS scores.
- Pupils who were unlikely to talk to their parents about something that was worrying them were more likely than those who were to have a borderline or abnormal total difficulties score and to have lower WEMWBS scores.
- There was a correlation between perceived parental knowledge of activities and a pupil's emotional and behavioural problems. Pupils who thought their parents knew more about their activities are more likely to have normal total difficulties scores and to have higher WEMWBS scores.
Email: Julie Guy
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
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