Author: Justin Mckibben
Mental health can mean a huge difference in quality of life, especially for young people in the midst of developing as an individual. Having a mental health disorder is something that can affect every single aspect of a teen’s life during the crucial period in life where they learn so much about relationships, life and about themselves. It doesn’t mean that they have less of a life, but it is better to understand and improve on their mental health issue to ensure they have the fullest life possible.
Now research is showing that the essential improvement for a teens mental health can be achieved with just 3 hours of therapeutic intervention.
Dr. Patricia Conrod is from the University of Montreal and its affiliated Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Centre, and in regards to a recent experiment with group therapy she has stated:
“Our study shows that teacher delivered interventions that target specific risk factors for mental health problems can be immensely effective at reducing the incidence of depression, anxiety and conduct disorders in the long term.”
19 schools in Greater London participated in a study conducted by Dr. Conrod. Out of those one there was a control group of schools in which students did not receive any interventions, and over-all the students were evaluated for their risk of developing mental health or substance abuse problems using an established personality scale.
According to the study, the frequency of mental health issues amongst 509 British youth was reduced over a 24 month period by 25% to 33%. This was achieved by the intervention of 2 group therapy sessions that were only 90-minutes at a time.
The personality scale used for this investigation measures different personality factors that are known to be correlated strongly with behavioral issues such as:
- Anxiety sensitivity
- Sensation seeking
Once the students were evaluated on their personality types the designated schools had been trained to deliver interventions to their high risk students, while the control schools were not. The 2 session interventions included:
- Cognitive-behavioral strategies for managing one’s personality profile
- Real life “scenarios” shared by the high risk youths within their focus group
- Groups discussions on thoughts, emotions and behaviors within the context of their personality type
- Guidance of the teacher to help find ways to manage their issues
After the interventions students completed questionnaires every 6months for 2 years.
The surveys empowered the researchers to identify the development of certain conditions including:
- Panic attacks
- Conduct problems
- Suicidal thoughts
Reading the results researchers noticed several impressive and inspiring statistics regarding the improvement on those studied with.
- 21-26% reduction in severe depression, anxiety and conduct problem symptoms over the course of the trial
- 36% reduced odds of severe conduct problems for teenagers with high impulsivity
- 33% reduced odds of severe anxiety problems for teenagers high in anxiety sensitivity
- 23% decrease in severe depressive symptoms for the teenagers high in hopelessness
These stats are compared to the teens with similar personality profiles who did not receive interventions. These interventions were run by trained educational professionals, suggesting that this brief intervention can be effective when run from within the school system, and should be simple enough to replicate. That thought is a hopeful one, as Conrod reported that they are now directing a similar study in 32 high schools in Montreal to further test the effectiveness of the program.
Teens and Mental Health
Dr. Conrod estimated 1-in-4 Americans between the age of 8 to 15 year olds has experienced a mental health disorder over the past year, and that it is understood these disorders are typically associated with an excess of negative consequences both social and academic.
With mental health being such an important part of a young person’s development, it is easy to understand why this kind of research is so important. By helping young people to better understand any issue that may be related to some level of mental disorder can change the dynamic of how they grow into an adult, and by doing so we can create new strategies to help them cope with these problems.
If it only takes a few 3 hour sessions with a teen to try and improve the course of their mental health and thus help them avoid other more detrimental issues like substance abuse, eating disorders or other behavioral health concerns then why would we not utilize that time to teach them how to be the best versions of themselves? Should we expect schools to take the time to do this?
Healing can start early; you don’t have to wait until the last minute when all seems lost to seek out a solution. Don’t let mental health, drugs and alcohol or anything keep you from that. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588