Mental health first aid training for high school teachers: a cluster randomized trial

Jorm, Anthony F.; Kitchener, Betty A.; Sawyer, Michael G.; Scales, Helen; Cvetkovski, Stefan
January 2010
BMC Psychiatry;2010, Vol. 10, p51
Academic Journal
Background: Mental disorders often have their first onset during adolescence. For this reason, high school teachers are in a good position to provide initial assistance to students who are developing mental health problems. To improve the skills of teachers in this area, a Mental Health First Aid training course was modified to be suitable for high school teachers and evaluated in a cluster randomized trial. Methods: The trial was carried out with teachers in South Australian high schools. Teachers at 7 schools received training and those at another 7 were wait-listed for future training. The effects of the training on teachers were evaluated using questionnaires pre- and post-training and at 6 months follow-up. The questionnaires assessed mental health knowledge, stigmatizing attitudes, confidence in providing help to others, help actually provided, school policy and procedures, and teacher mental health. The indirect effects on students were evaluated using questionnaires at pre-training and at follow-up which assessed any mental health help and information received from school staff, and also the mental health of the student. Results: The training increased teachers' knowledge, changed beliefs about treatment to be more like those of mental health professionals, reduced some aspects of stigma, and increased confidence in providing help to students and colleagues. There was an indirect effect on students, who reported receiving more mental health information from school staff. Most of the changes found were sustained 6 months after training. However, no effects were found on teachers' individual support towards students with mental health problems or on student mental health. Conclusions: Mental Health First Aid training has positive effects on teachers' mental health knowledge, attitudes, confidence and some aspects of their behaviour. Trial registration: ACTRN12608000561381


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