Enhancement of mental health literacy for youth is a focus of increasing interest for mental health professionals and educators alike. Schools are an ideal site for addressing mental health literacy in young people. Currently, there is limited evidence regarding the impact of curriculum-based interventions within high school settings. We examined the effect of a high-school mental health curriculum ( The Guide) in enhancing mental health literacy in Canadian schools.
We conducted a secondary analysis on surveys of students who participated in a classroom mental health course taught by their usual teachers. Evaluation of students’ mental health literacy (knowledge/attitudes) was completed before and after classroom implementation and at 2-month follow-up. We used paired-samples t-tests and Cohen’s d value to determine the significance and impact of change.
There were 265 students who completed all surveys. Students’ knowledge significantly improved between pre- and post-tests ( p < 0.001; d = 0.90) and was maintained at follow-up ( p < 0.001; d = 0.73). Similarly, attitude significantly improved between pre- and post-tests ( p < 0.001; d = 0.25) and was significantly higher at follow-up than base-line ( p < 0.007; d = 0.18)
The Guide, applied by usual teachers in usual classroom curriculum, may help improve student knowledge and attitudes regarding mental health. This is the first study to demonstrate the positive impact of a curriculum-based mental health literacy program in a Canadian high school population.