Professor Alison Calear is an NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow and Co-Head of the Centre for Mental Health Research at the Australian National University. Her research is focused on youth mental health, eHealth and the prevention and early intervention of anxiety, depression, and suicide. She is also interested in the promotion of help-seeking behaviour and the role of literacy and stigma in the help-seeking process.
Most recently, her research has focused on suicide prevention in secondary schools and the development of an online resource to support parents to better recognise and respond to psychological distress or suicide risk in their child.
The aim of the proposed project is to evaluate the effectiveness of the newly established Thriving Minds: Empowered Futures program in increasing literacy, reducing stigma and promoting help-seeking confidence, attitudes, intentions and behaviours in children aged 8-12 years.
The Thriving Minds: Empowered Futures program was developed by Mental Illness Education ACT (MIEACT), who is a partner in the current project. The program consists of three classroom sessions that are delivered by a lived experience educator. The program aims to address mental health literacy and stigma, equip students with effective self-care strategies, and encourage them to seek help for emotional problems. Content is mapped to the Australian curriculum and focuses on key concerns for 8–12-year-olds, including coping with stress/anxiety and responding to bullying. The content is delivered through developmentally appropriate story books and classroom discussions.
Children from 10 primary schools in the ACT will participate in a cluster randomised controlled trial to assess intervention effects immediately after the program and at 3-month follow-up. A qualitative evaluation assessing student and staff satisfaction with the program will also be conducted, including what students liked most and least about the program, any suggested improvements or additions to the program and any observable changes in student learning, behaviour or wellbeing following the intervention.
Co-Investigators: Professor Philip Batterham, Dr Brad Shrimpton, Dr Alyssa Morse, Dr Louise Farrer and Dr Sonia McCallum.