School-based mental health promotion program going from strength to strength

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The new iCARE-R mental health promotion program designed for rural and regional Year 8 students is going from strength to strength.

That’s acccording to CQUniversity Professor Margaret McAllister who has been a key collaborator on the multidisciplinary program, drawing on a decade of research into the mental health and well-being of young people.

The iCARE-R program explores well-being, challenges of adolescence, and pro-social strategies to build strengths and social connections, leading to resilience. It provides opportunities for participating young people to widen their repertoire of mental health skills that are likely to protect them from stressors common in this life period.

“As a result of iCARE-R, teachers and school guidance officers become an enduring asset for the school, setting a tone that mental health is strategically promoted, and mental health needs appropriately referred,” Professor McAllister says.

“The research surrounding this project is centered on the impacts iCARE-R has on important student, teacher and school outcomes.

“The study includes pre and post-test design to measure the degree to which students’ levels of resilience, mental health awareness and well-being change as a result of participating in the iCARE-R program. This research is important because it will further establish the efficacy and viability of the iCARE-R program, as a schools-based initiative to promote mental health.”

Professor McAllister says the project achievements have included a Phase 1 focus group and interviews identifying that iCARE-R is highly relevant to regionally-located students.

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Under Phase 2, 16 facilitators have been trained to deliver iCARE-R and a formal set of training materials has been developed. Under Phase 3, 400 students across 15 schools in central and western Queensland have participated in the iCARE-R program. A second round of facilitator training and iCARE-R delivery will occur in early 2016.

Professor McAllister says that data analysis and final reporting are still to come. She will soon (early November) present a conference paper on iCARE-R to the Society for the Provision of Education in Rural Australia conference in Geelong. Her CQUni colleague Professor Bruce Knight recently presented a conference paper on iCARE-R to the Health and Wellness and Society conference in Spain.

* iCARE-R is a collaborative project funded by the Queensland Government Accelerate Partnership, CQUniversity, Curtin University, Department of Education and Training Queensland and the Queensland Mental Health Commission. The project team is comprised of leading academics in the fields of mental health promotion and education, mental health professionals and school guidance

(Source: CQ University)

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Date Created: November 15, 2015