Black Dog Institute study confirms benefits of mental health lessons



A study conducted by the Black Dog Institute and published in the Journal of Adolescence in September, has found that school-based mental health education programs can help reduce stigma and improve mental health awareness.


Researchers from the Institute compared data from Year 9 and 10 students who took part in their mental health literacy program HeadStrong, with data from secondary school students who undertook the standard personal development programs in the health and physical education curriculum. The results found that students participating in the HeadStrong program demonstrated significantly better mental health literacy. Stigmatising attitudes were also significantly lower in this group.

These results are another piece of evidence that supports nib foundation's belief in the importance of awareness and education in improving youth mental health outcomes in Australia.

Since 2011 we have been supporting Black Dog Institute to introduce HeadStrong to schools across Australia by customising the resource to meet the needs of each state and territory curriculum, and training teachers to deliver the program in the classroom. These results are very pleasing and strongly indicate the benefits of integration of mental health literacy programs into schools.

The unique HeadStrong program uses a series of engaging, humorous cartoon images to help teachers effectively deal with a topic that has traditionally been difficult to teach.

Specifically designed to engage young people, the resource provides teenagers with an increased knowledge of mood disorders, their symptoms, as well as how and when to seek help, and how to build resilience. It aims to reduce the impact of mood disorders on young people, leading to an improvement in their overall health and wellbeing.

Since the foundation's three-year, $500,000 grant was made in 2011 over 4,000 unique downloads have been made of the HeadStrong curriculum resource. It is also estimated more than 1,500 teachers will be trained in delivering the HeadStrong program by the end of 2014.

 Click here for more information on the Black Dog Institute and the HeadStrong program.