A recent meta-analysis by Zhang and colleagues evaluated the effectiveness of school-based mental health interventions on depression and anxiety outcomes. The meta-analysis included 29 studies evaluating 32 programs implemented in kindergarten through 12th grade. Most studies took place in Australia (41%) and the United States (28%). The study found that:
- Overall, interventions reduced depression and anxiety (ES=+0.24, p=0.002).
- Interventions administered in secondary schools had statistically significant mean effect sizes of +0.42 (p=0.006), while those administered at the elementary level did not produce significant results (ES=+0.06, p=0.547).
- Interventions with cognitive behavioral therapy elements significantly reduced the outcome of interest (ES=+0.33, p=0.002). Cognitive behavioral therapy can be implemented in clinical and school settings to help individuals learn to shift thinking and behavior patterns to better cope with issues such as depression and anxiety.
With a growing need to address the mental well-being of youth, the findings from this study suggest programs that incorporate components of cognitive behavioral therapy and are administered in secondary schools may help to improve students’ social and emotional outcomes.
Source (Open Access): Zhang, Q., Wang, J., & Neitzel, A. (2022). School-based mental health interventions targeting depression or anxiety: A meta-analysis of rigorous randomized controlled trials for school-aged children and adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-022-01684-4