There is an increase in the prevalence of mental health problems in the United States. Healthy People 2020’s leading mental health indicator is to increase the delivery of care to those with mental health issues and lower the number of youth who experience a major depressive disorder. Teachers and non-teaching staff are well placed in the community to identify youth undergoing emotional distress and facilitate early interventions, yet do not receive adequate training in mental health.
A project was undertaken to determine if a mental health training intervention affected the community youth mentors knowledge, attitude and self-efficacy towards helping youth with mental health issues. Three instruments with good validity and reliability namely Mental Health Literacy Scale (MHLS), Attitudes to Severe Mental Illness (ASMI) scale, and Gatekeeper Behavior Scale were used in pre intervention, immediately post intervention and two weeks post intervention questionnaires. The Wilcoxon Signed Ranks test indicated changes in the pre and post intervention scores as significant in knowledge, and attitude between pre intervention and immediately post intervention time periods. Cohen’s effect size value suggested large, medium, small, and minimum clinical significance in the variables over period of time.
Mental health literacy narrows the gap between symptom onset and intervention. Numerous mental health trainings are currently available worldwide. Schools and after school clubs in collaboration with hospital mental health and other community agencies are better equipped to bridge the gap. School staff report better confidence in addressing mental health and behavioral health issues among youth when equipped with additional resources within the school in the form of psychologists, social workers, and counselors.