"Making Healthy Change Happen": Youth perspectives on mental health promotion programming delivered in schools by public health experts

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Background: The Mental Health Commission of Canada recognizes that children and youth need in-school mental health (MH) programming to support healthy development and promote resiliency into adulthood. The next phase of the Mental Health and Addiction Strategy involves a call to action to use public health expertise to promote MH and support services in schools. Consulting youth allows us to create programming that is tailored to the needs of this age group. Engaging youth can result in more positive health outcomes. Objective: To assess perceived impact, acceptability and feasibility of a 10-session evidence-based MH program delivered in school during Health and Physical Education by public health nurses in a small, all-girls peer group format. Method: Ninth grade females (n=47) were drawn from a larger SickKidsResults: Analysis revealed five themes. Among those themes, students reported gaining a greater sense of connectedness to their peers resulting from participating in the program. They reported a preference for interactive activities including role-play as a way to learn and practice coping strategies. Help with day-to-day issues encountered at school and with peers was a priority for the students. Some participants requested more detailed discussion about mental illness. longitudinal school-based prevention study led by Dr. McVey. Data was coded, grouped then analyzed thematically using qualitative software (MAXQDA). Conclusion: Peer connectedness is linked to assertiveness which in turn can enhance positive coping among youth. Involving youth in MH promotion planning is key to fostering their engagement in health-promoting behaviours, all of which can help to improve child and youth MH outcomes.

Poster First Author: 
Tamara Do Amaral
Conference Presented At: 
IAYMH 2015
Poster Date: 
October, 2015
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