Mental health problems are a main contributor to the global burden of disease in children and young people within urban environments. In response, the potential of both school- and sport-based mental health promotion interventions has been advocated. However, there exists limited insights into how sport-based interventions can be integrated within school environment. Moreover, there is a need to consider children and young people’s specific needs, challenges, and motivations when designing novel mental health promotion interventions.
The Strengthening Mental Health and Resilience Through Schools (SMARTS) project aims to co-design an evidence-informed school-sport-based mental health promotion program. Specific objectives include (1) co-designing a multicomponent program, integrating sport sessions with class-based sessions, and complementing with educational modules for teachers and parents; (2) exploring how the mental health program can be implemented most effectively within the Brussels school system; and (3) conducting preliminary process and outcome testing of the program.
A participatory design framework will be adopted to develop the program. This framework involves end users throughout the entire study process, from problem identification to intervention delivery and evaluation, while at the same time ensuring program development remains directly informed by the available scientific evidence.
Participant recruitment will commence in September 2023. The full project will be completed by March 2027.
With this intervention, we aim to provide a direct contribution to the promotion of children and young people’s mental health within the Brussels school context. At a broader level, conducting and documenting this large participatory design project can, hopefully, inspire other researchers to tailor their mental health programs to specific populations.