Healthy Minds rollout stems from psych research

One thousand adolescents across Australia will participate in a trial designed to prevent and reduce the risk of depression, anxiety and eating disorders.

The Healthy Minds program will be delivered to 10 high schools by accredited and specially trained professionals with the aim of preventing the onset of symptoms of depression and anxiety, while also reducing the risk of eating disorders.

Developed from psychology research conducted by Dr Tom Nehmy at Flinders University, the program teaches specific skills associated with emotional wellness and resilience.

Schools will soon be invited to apply to participate in the trial, which will include eight weekly group sessions delivered by a psychologist to Year 8 students, corresponding classroom lessons, parent modules, and teacher training.

Dr Nehmy completed his PhD at Flinders in 2014. Supervised by Professor Tracey Wade, his topic was ‘A controlled evaluation of a universal trans-diagnostic prevention program for adolescent depression, anxiety and disordered eating.”

Announcing the $210,000 Health Minds pilot this week, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says teenagers are not immune to the pressures of our fast-paced life and the advent of social media has created a new source of stress.

“We know that around four million Australians experience a mental health condition every year,” Mr Hunt says.

“People of all ages can be affected – either directly or because someone close to them might be suffering.

“Indeed, in 2015 it was estimated that approximately 560,000 children and adolescents aged 4-17 years experienced a mental illness.”

Giving teenagers skills to manage their mental health will help them better navigate the world now, and into the future, he says.

The program aims to teach adolescents to become effective self-managers of their wellbeing through helpful thinking, understanding emotions, challenging perfectionism, stress management and self-compassion.

“The Healthy Minds Program Trial will help schools to support the wellbeing and mental health of our kids so they are better able to respond to life challenges and live life to their full potential,” Mr Hunt says.

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