There is no doubt that teachers play a considerable role in shaping the minds of our youth, however, most programs focussed on preventing mental illness in young people are delivered by psychologists, which in turn can be costly.
A new study funded by Australian Rotary Health will take a different approach by testing if a brief personality-targeted program for preventing the escalation of anxiety, depression and alcohol use in young Australians will be effective when delivered by school teachers.
Mental Health Research Grant recipient Dr Erin Kelly at the University of Sydney says the Preventure program has already been effective in reducing alcohol use and symptoms of depression and anxiety in high school students in Australia when delivered by clinical psychologists, however, seeing a psychologist is not always possible for young people.
“Current interventions of interventions for these disorders are costly when delivered by clinical psychologists, and there are many barriers to tertiary intervention for young people,” Erin says.
“If proven to be effective when delivered by teachers in school settings, Preventure represents a scalable and cost-effective solution for anxiety, mood and alcohol use disorders.”
The study, which is the first of its kind in Australia, will use a cluster randomised controlled trial, with six high schools to receive the Preventure intervention and six high schools allocated to a control condition who will receive their usual Health and Physical Education curriculum.
“The Preventure program components equip adolescents to better cope with their personality styles and will be delivered by trained teachers of high-risk adolescents in the intervention schools.”
Students involved in the trial will complete assessments of their mental health and alcohol use at the beginning of the study, and 6 and 12 months after.
“I see adolescents as a critical time period to intervene, and I believe that schools are the ideal setting to equip young people with the skills to manage their mental health so that they can lead full and meaningful lives,” Erin said.
We wish Erin and her research team all the best with their research.
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Media contact: Jessica Cooper – (02) 8837 1900 or firstname.lastname@example.org