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Building resilience in regional youth: Impacts of a universal mental health promotion program
journal contributionposted on 11.06.2018, 00:00 by Margaret McallisterMargaret Mcallister, Bruce KnightBruce Knight, P Hasking, Cathie WithymanCathie Withyman, J Dawkins
Mental health is a leading health issue facing young people, particularly those living in rural and regional areas. This paper discusses the outcomes of a two-year collaborative mental health promotion program that successfully involved over 850 young people from 23 rural and regional high schools in Queensland. The program termed iCARE-R (Creating Awareness, Resilience and Enhanced Mental Health for Rural young people) is a strengths based, solution focused, group mental health promotion program targeting all young people, regardless of vulnerability, aged around 13 years. The program is explicitly solution focused and uses a range of engaging strategies to stimulate reflection on self-care, resilience and social connection. It is delivered by trained facilitators in the school setting over a six-week period. An open trial, conducted to measure the effectiveness of the program on the participating adolescents, found that after program completion there was a significant increase in self-efficacy and in the number of positive coping strategies used by the participating young people. Positive self-identity and a coping repertoire are important strategies for resilience and developing wellbeing in young people. The positive impacts of the program are attributed; to a collaborative effort between health nurses, guidance officers and classroom teachers, well trained facilitators who are solution-focused, adaptable and use the course material in creative and engaging ways.