Seminar: 14 October 2015 – Evaluating School-Based Mental Health Literacy Programmes

Speaker: Dr Paul Gorczynski

School-based mental health literacy programmes aim to help children understand mental health problems, address stigmatizing attitudes, and access mental health resources. Although school-based programmes have been promoted as optimal ways of improving mental health literacy, their overall effectiveness in primary and secondary schools have not been evaluated thoroughly.

The purpose of this review was to examine the effectiveness of primary and secondary level school-based mental health literacy programmes on mental health knowledge, attitudes, and help seeking behaviour in children under the age of 18 years. In total, 47 studies were included in this review and most showed a positive intervention effect on all three aspects of mental health literacy.

The majority of studies evaluated mental health literacy programmes in secondary schools, focused on promoting knowledge and attitudes on mental illness in general, and involved more female than male students. Programmes varied in structure, length, delivery, and student interaction as well methods of evaluation.

Given programme and methodological heterogeneity, results should be treated cautiously and it is not possible to determine which mental health programme was most effective at addressing mental health knowledge, attitudes, or help seeking behaviour. Suggestions for future school-based mental health literacy programme research and practice are discussed.