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Learning About Mental Health at School

28 March 2017 - Dr Jan Orman

Black Dog Institute’s Lifespan integrated suicide prevention research project includes an arm of mental health education in schools.

The schools-based program is a local adaptation of Youth Aware Mental Health (YAM), a program developed at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. The YAM program has, in longitudinal analyses, been shown to be effective in reducing depression, negative emotional symptoms, conduct problems and suicidal ideation, plans and attempts.

So what is YAM?

YAM was specifically developed to be rolled out in a school-based environment to 14-17 year olds. It encourages empathy-building and group-based problem solving, discusses problems from a variety of perspectives and encourages participants to see that they are not alone when it comes to solving their problems.

The program is based around a core of role play where, with the help of a trained facilitator, participants develop their own problem scenarios and find their own solutions. As a result of its inherent flexibility it is adaptable to all kinds of cultural contexts. Participants learn from the facilitator and from each other, building mental health knowledge and skills.

To learn more about the YAM program and the evidence to support it go to the YAM website.

To learn more about the nine arms of BDI’s Lifespan integrated suicide prevention research project, of which mental health education in schools is only one aspect, go to the Lifespan website

In the meantime, I’m thinking, what a great thing it would be able to help young people develop a greater understanding of mental health and improve their personal resilience.

A facilitator training course in Stockholm doesn’t sound too bad to me either – in the summer of course!

Dr Jan Orman
Dr Jan Orman

Jan is Sydney GP, private psychological medicine practitioner in Sydney’s inner west and a GP educator for Black Dog Institute.

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