Use of Mental Health Literacy Courses in the Classroom

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Publication Date

Spring 2021


Mental illness and psychological distress are and have been experienced across the globe, regardless of gender, race, or class. Research has shown that implementing mental health literacy courses into secondary schooling may help all populations, but especially those who are affected heavily by mental illness and distress. Studies were conducted in two of the most impoverished countries before the US ran their own trials, showing that it is an efficient way to improve mental health even in the populations that appear to struggle the most. A trial conducted in Tanzania (where more than two-thirds of the population live beneath the international poverty line) replicated results from the same intervention previously used in Malawi. This intervention has been implemented in at least 15 other schools in the US, according to a meta-analysis reported by NCBI, with similar results. Their study focused on forming a mental health literacy (MHL) guide which their teachers would then use to educate students. The course consisted of six main objectives: recognition, knowledge about mental illness, knowledge of prevention and promotion of mental health, knowledge about help-seeking, mental illness stigma, help-seeking beliefs. Independent tests comparing the paired sample to the unpaired sample showed a decrease in teachers’ and students’ stigma, higher rates (over 75% of the sample of teachers) of positive help-seeking efficacy for themselves as well as their students, peers, family, and friends, and increased ability of teachers to identify at-risk students. In every trial conducted, the results showed significant increase in mental health literacy.


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