A step towards mental health first aid-savvy teens

A training programme of mental health first aid for adolescents shows promise as a training tool in increasing likelihood of adolescents supporting each other during mental stress, according to a paper published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry this week.

The teen mental health first aid programme was tested against a physical first aid programme with adolescents allocated randomly to one programme or the other. teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA) is a classroom-based training programme for students aged 15–18 years to designed to improve supportive behaviours towards peers, increase mental health literacy and reduce stigma, the authors said.

Both interventions involved almost 2000 students of government-funded schools, and consisted of three 75-minute classroom sessions, presented by trained external instructors. All students were provided with a specific programme booklet and completion certificate, the authors explained.

The authors reported significant improvements to attitudes and intention to give mental health first aid to peers, as well as significant increase in mental health literacy and reduction of stigmatising attitudes.

They pointed out that the programme still required further research to evaluate whether teen Mental Health First Aid training translated into actual supportive behaviours.

Reference: Laura M Hart, Amy J Morgan, Alyssia Rossetto, Claire M Kelly, Andrew Mackinnon and Anthony F Jorm. Helping adolescents to better support their peers with a mental health problem: A cluster-randomised crossover trial of teen Mental Health First Aid. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry; 52 (7) July 2018. Research Article.

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Are we heading for a tobacco-free world?

The nation’s lungs can breathe easier since Australia won a trade dispute against the tobacco industry this week over plain packaging for cigarettes. Backed by the World Health Organisation, international action on tobacco control will have legal muscle, according to an editorial in the Lancet this week.

This follows reports from China last month that trains are to be smoke-free and that in Japan new laws were passed to make smoking in bars and restaurants illegal, paving the way for a tobacco-free 2020 Olympics. Although these wins are a major step forward in global anti-smoking efforts the editorial stated that despite the fall in prevalence since 1990, the actual number of smokers continues to increase worldwide owing to population growth.

While the latest global legal successes are good progress, the editorial pointed out that it will be necessary to intensely monitor the tobacco industry to sustain the progress made so far.

Editorial, Lancet; 392 (10141):1, July 2018

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