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What Program Components Are Effective for Promoting Mental Health in the Early Years, School Years, and Transition-Age Youth?

By Jewel Bailey, CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre

May 1-7 2017, is Mental Health Awareness Week. This annual event provides another opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of good mental health and what is required to achieve and maintain positive mental well-being. The Evidence Exchange Network within the Provincial System Support Program at CAMH, produced three evidence briefs that examine program components that are effective for promoting positive mental health in the early years, school years, and among transition-age youth. Selected findings for the three groups are presented below:

earlyyearsEarly Years

Home visiting and group-based parenting programs were identified as priority areas for this evidence brief since evidence demonstrates a high return on investment for these two types of interventions.

    1. Program components associated with effective home visiting include: utilizing appropriately and/or professionally trained home visitors, applying a clearly articulated theory of change, having more intensive programs, and teaching parents responsive parenting, behavior management, and problem-solving.

    2. Components associated with effective group-based parenting programs include: teaching parents emotional communication skills, disciplinary consistency, positive interactions with the child in non-disciplinary ways, and requiring parents to practice new skills with their own child during group sessions.

Read the Early Years Evidence Brief

schoolagedSchool-Aged Children

  1. Social emotional learning (SEL) programs are one category of mental health promotion interventions that foster the core competencies and skills to help children and adolescents manage emotions, relationships, and conflict.

  2. Components of effective SEL programs include using a whole school approach, SAFE (sequenced, active, focused, and explicit) components, interactive training methods, involvement of parents, and a focus on skill development. Programs delivered across all school levels have shown to be effective, though it is inconclusive whether longer programs are more beneficial than shorter programs.

Read the School Years Evidence Brief

 

tayTransition-Age Youth (TAY)

  1. Mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention supports for TAY must include interventions both on campus and in community-based settings that are diverse, integrated, and comprehensive.

  2. Skills-based programs that incorporate supervised behavior practice and feedback, such as those aimed at building cognitive-behavioral skills, mindfulness, or relaxation, have been shown to be effective at reducing levels of psychological distress among post-secondary students.

  3. Early evidence has demonstrated that integrated service centers, on campus or in the community, are effective at increasing access to mental health supports for TAY and somewhat effective at reducing psychological distress.

Read the TAY Evidence Brief


Findings from these evidence briefs informed the recommendations presented to the Ontario government by the Mental Health and Addictions Leadership Advisory Council in its 2016 Annual Report.

 

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