Using teen Mental Health First Aid to address mental health inequity among school youth

Project Type(s):

Principal Investigator(s):

Over 2.5 million US adolescents struggle with mental health challenges, and multiracial adolescents are at greatest risk due to limited access to mental health programs. As roughly half of lifetime mental disorders have their first onset by mid-adolescence, it is vital to promote help-seeking for prevention and early intervention during this important developmental stage.

This project will test the implementation of an evidence-based mental illness prevention program — teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA) — in a diverse and underserved school district to facilitate help seeking among teens aged 16-18. While tMHFA has a proven track record of effectively enhancing knowledge of mental health problems, reducing stigma and promoting help-seeking behaviors, its efficacy across dimensions of race and ethnicity is underexamined in the US.

Academic (UW & SMART Center), education (Tacoma Public Schools) and behavioral health organization (MultiCare) stakeholders will address this gap by conducting a mixed-methods study with 1) focus groups to obtain diverse teens aged 15-18 opinions about facilitators and barriers in help-seeking; and 2) longitudinal data collection to examine the impact of the innovative tMHFA’s potential to address help-seeking barriers across dimensions of race and ethnicity. The findings of this project will guide both the revisions to the program to improve its efficacy and the scaling of this program to support government legislation to expand service delivery to other schools and to rural areas across the state.

Project Period:
January 1, 2023 December 31, 2023

Funding Type(s):

Garvey Institute for Brain Health Solutions

Geographic Area(s):

Practice Type(s):
Educational settings (e.g. universities, schools)

Patient Population(s):

Targeted Condition(s):
Health disparities, Substance use disorders/misuse, Suicidal Ideation