Just three hours of group therapy delivered by teachers is enough to reduce the incidence of many mental health problems amongst teens by more than a quarter.
In the study of 509 British youths, students were given two 90-minute sessions of therapy by specially trained teachers and the students were followed up over two years.
Dr. Patricia Conrod, who led the study, said:
“Almost one-in-four American 8- to 15-year-olds has experienced a mental health disorder over the past year.
We know that these disorders are associated with a plethora of negative consequences.
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.”
Nineteen schools in London were involved in the research, which identified youths who were particularly at risk.
The specially trained teachers taught students how to deal with the aspects of their personalities that might cause them problems.
For example, being highly impulsive — the tendency to act without thinking — has a strong link to conduct issues.
Organised into groups, students thought about different scenarios in which they might be tempted to act impulsively, say, by drinking or doing drugs, and how they should cope with these situations cognitively.
The results of this group were compared to a similar control group given no intervention.
Researchers found that that short therapy sessions had been remarkably effective.
There was a:
- 21-26% reduction in severe depression,
- 35% reduction in conduct problems amongst impulsive teens,
- 33% reduction in severe anxiety problems.
Dr. Patricia Conrod said:
“The interventions were run by trained educational professionals, suggesting that this brief intervention can be both effective and sustainable when run within the school system.
We are now leading similar study is 32 high schools in Montreal to further test the efficacy of this kind of programme.”
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