Promoting adolescents’ mental health and wellbeing: evidence synthesis [2019]

Evidence on implementing effective adolescent mental health promotion and prevention interventions in the European context is underdeveloped. The purpose of this paper is to identify evidence-based mental health promotion and prevention interventions for adolescents that have been developed and/or implemented across the school, community and digital settings in Europe. This review also sought to identify the relevant implementation processes in relation to what works, for whom and under what circumstances.

A narrative synthesis of the evidence was conducted which included two stages: a systematic search of studies assessing adolescent mental health promotion and prevention interventions; and a selection of interventions with the most robust evidence base, using pre-defined criteria, that have been either developed and/or implemented in Europe.

A total of 16 interventions met the inclusion criteria. The majority of interventions were school-based programmes. The review findings support the delivery of interventions aimed at enhancing young people’s social and emotional learning (SEL) and preventing behavioural problems. Results indicate that the effective delivery of SEL interventions on a school-wide basis could provide an important platform on which other universal interventions such as anxiety and bullying prevention, and targeted depression prevention could be developed in a multi-tiered fashion. There were a limited number of studies providing robust evidence on the effectiveness of suicide prevention, digital and community-based interventions.

This review identifies a number of robust evidence-based promotion and prevention interventions for promoting adolescent mental health. While the interventions have been implemented in Europe, the majority has not been evaluated rigorously and few included detailed information on the quality of programme implementation. Evidence of the effective cross-cultural transferability of these interventions needs to be strengthened, including more systematic research on their implementation across diverse country contexts.

Tuuli Kuosmanen, Aleisha M. Clarke, Margaret M. Barry
Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 18 Issue: 1, 2019