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Use, acceptability and impact of booklets designed to support mental health self-management and help seeking in schools: results of a large randomised controlled trial in England.

  • Author(s): Sharpe, Helen
  • Patalay, Praveetha
  • Vostanis, Panos
  • Belsky, Jay
  • Humphrey, Neil
  • Wolpert, Miranda
  • et al.
Abstract

Mental health booklets may provide a low-cost means of promoting mental health self-management and help seeking in schools. The aim of the study was to assess the (a) use, (b) acceptability and (c) impact of booklets for students in primary (10-11 years) and secondary school (12-13 years) alone and in conjunction with funding for targeted mental health support. This was a 2 × 2 factorial cluster randomized controlled trial, in which 846 schools in England were randomly allocated to receive/not receive: (1) booklets for students containing information on mental health self-management and help seeking, and (2) funding for mental health support as part of a national mental health initiative. 14,690 students (8139 primary, 6551 secondary) provided self-report on mental health, quality of life (baseline and 1 year follow-up) and help seeking (follow-up). (a) Approximately, 40 % primary school students and 20 % secondary school students reported seeing the booklets. (b) Of these, 87 % of primary school students reported that the booklet was 'very helpful' or 'quite helpful', compared with 73 % in secondary school. (c) There was no detectable impact of booklets on mental health, quality of life or help seeking, either alone or in conjunction with additional funding through the national mental health initiative. Lack of discernable impact of booklets underscores the need for caution in adopting such an approach. However, it is feasible that the impact was obscured by low uptake or that booklets may be more effective when used in a targeted way.

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