Novel mental health programs improve adolescents’ ability to recognize and help their friends, new research says, who may be at risk of suicide.
Researchers at the University of Milbourne have evaluated the effects of adolescent mental health first aid, a common mental health literacy program for high school students over ten years. It is an intervention that can help adolescents at risk of suicide.
Researchers analyzed data from more than 10-12 students from four government secondary schools over 800 years old who participated in the 3+75-minute classroom-based training program. This was compared with students who completed the Matched Control Physical First Aid course.
Researchers found that students who attended TMHFA training were 35 times more likely to receive first aid for suicide than those in the control group. This includes looking at someone’s mistake to ask if his or her friend is okay and suggesting that they tell an adult.
The findings showed that students’ general awareness of psychological alertness and confidence in offering help was more important than specific knowledge of suicide.
TMHFA students reported higher levels of distress than those who received physical first aid, but most of the distress often lasted for a few hours to a few hours. A follow-up of 12 months confirmed that the experience was timely and not associated with long-term loss.
University of Melbourne Senior Research Fellow Laura Hart said the findings prove the importance of cultivating suicide prevention information within public mental health programs in schools and increasing peer support and discussion opportunities.
”Young people account for nearly one-third of the 800,000 people who die by suicide each year, with suicide a leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds, ”Dr. Hart said.
”Three in four youths report that if they are considering suicide, they will turn to a friend first. We need to equip young people with the skills and knowledge to recognize warning signs and get appropriate help for their friends.”