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teen Mental Health First Aid: 12-month outcomes from a cluster crossover randomized controlled trial evaluation of a universal program to help adolescents better support peers with a mental health problem

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posted on 2023-08-10, 03:26 authored by Laura HartLaura Hart, Amy MorganAmy Morgan, A Rossetto, CM Kelly, K Gregg, M Gross, C Johnson, AF Jorm
Background: teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA) is a universal mental health literacy, stigma reduction, help-seeking, and suicide prevention program designed for adolescents in Years 10–12 of secondary school (16–18 years). tMHFA is delivered by trained instructors, in a regular classroom setting, to increase the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours that adolescents’ require to better support peers with mental health problems or mental health crises. Methods: To explore the efficacy of tMHFA, a cluster crossover randomised controlled trial was conducted with Year 10 students in four schools in Victoria, Australia, using physical first aid training as the control intervention. Of the 1942 eligible students, 1,624 completed baseline and 894 completed follow-up surveys. Online surveys, administered one week before training and again 12-months later, included vignettes depicting peers John (depression and suicide risk) and Jeanie (social anxiety/phobia), measures of mental health first aid (quality of first aid intentions, confidence, first aid behaviours provided, and first aid behaviours received), mental health literacy (beliefs about adult help, help-seeking intentions), and stigma (social distance, weak-not-sick, dangerous/unpredictable, and would not tell anyone). Results: The primary outcome—quality of first aid intentions towards the John vignette—showed statistically significant group x time interactions, with tMHFA students reporting more helpful and less unhelpful first aid intentions, than PFA students did over time. Confidence in providing first aid also showed significant interactions. First aid behaviours—both those provided to a peer with a mental health problem and those received from a peer—showed null results. Ratings of both beliefs about adult help and help-seeking intentions were found to be significantly improved among tMHFA students at follow-up. A group x time interaction was found on one stigma scale (would not tell anyone). Conclusions: This trial showed that, one year after training, tMHFA improves first aid intentions towards peers with depression and suicide risk, confidence in helping peers with mental health problems, willingness to tell someone and seek help from an adult or health professional if experiencing a mental health problem. Trial registration: This research was registered with Australia New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12614000061639.


This research was funded by a Mental Health Research grant awarded to the Authors by Australian Rotary Health, a National Health and Medical Research Council Grant awarded to Author AFJ, and a Colin Dodds Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship in Mental Health Research awarded to LMH by Australian Rotary Health. These sponsors had no role in the (1) study design; (2) the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; (3) the writing of the report; and (4) the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.


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BMC Public Health



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BioMed Central Ltd.



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