Critical Components for the Successful Implementation of Mental Health Promotion Programs in Secondary Schools: A Scoping Review

  • Author / Creator
    Megan Brain
  • The alarmingly high number of mental health challenges in Canadian adolescents continues to be a cause of concern for educators, health care providers, and related stakeholders (CMHA, 2019). Although recent shifts in supporting mental health have transitioned from a targeted, problem-focused approach to a more universal, positive view of mental health, mental health promotion has yet to be systematically implemented in Canadian schools. This may be attributed to educators not having a clear and practical framework to facilitate implementation (CMHA, 2019). The purpose of this research is to compile available evidence on mental health promotion programs in schools and determine the critical components necessary for school stakeholders when implementing a universal (whole-school) mental health promotion program. Using four databases (MEDLINE, Embase, PsychInfor, and ERIC) a search was conducted for ‘mental health promotion in schools for adolescents’, focused on peer reviewed research-based publications on comprehensive (or universal) programs (or interventions) that support the implementation of mental health promotion in schools. A total of 10 studies were included in the final review. The results indicated that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ implementation framework to mental health promotion programs in secondary schools may be unrealistic; however, there are specific implementation criteria that will contribute to the overall effectiveness of implementation. These include: (a) student as change agents, (b) school-specific autonomy, (c) demonstrated administrative leadership, (d) dedicated champion to engage school staff, (e) community support, (f) evidence, (g) professional development, (h) time, (i) funding and project supports, (j) readiness and prior community connectivity, (k) focus on staff development, (l) context and structure, and (m) district-lead support. Additionally, teacher wellness, positive leadership and collaboration between health and education sectors were highlighted as significant factors in school-based mental health promotion. The results from this study illustrate that mental health promotion in schools may be most successful when programs are implemented using a top-down, bottom-up approach. The approach should be created and driven by centralized leadership, yet providing schools the autonomy to move forward based upon building stakeholder consensus and culture at a grassroots level. Given the current state of mental health in Canadian adolescents and the opportunity that schools have in public health promotion, all decision-making stakeholders should narrow their focus to how these programs can be systematically implemented.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Education
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.