Dr. Lisa Gassin
Scholarship of Discovery
Mental health literacy, or the public’s knowledge and beliefs about mental health, has been shown to be lacking; therefore, the proper first aid actions are not always taken to recognize and encourage treatment for psychological disorders (Burns & Rapee, 2006; Jorm et al., 1997; Jorm, 2012; Yap, Wright, & Jorm, 2011). This issue is particularly relevant in a university setting where mental health issues are common and students often rely on their peers for support (Hefner & Eisenberg, 2009; Kitzrow, 2009; Morse & Schulze, 2013). Studies have shown mental health first aid (MFHA) training to be successful in equipping people with the skills they need to help others in acute mental health crises (Bulanda, Bruhn, Byro-Johnson, & Zentmyer, 2014; Kitchener & Jorm, 2002; Morse & Schulze, 2013).
To assess the efficacy of a brief mental MHFA training intervention, the current study collected data from 75 undergraduate students at a small, Midwestern university. We tested whether college students who read the Depression First Aid Guidelines would choose more appropriate first aid actions than a control group when responding to a vignette of a peer exhibiting depression.
Data were analyzed using an independent samples t-test. No statistically significant difference was found between the experimental and control groups, indicating that the brief training intervention was not substantial enough to improve knowledge of first aid actions. However, students who had read the guidelines did report a greater sense of confidence in their ability to provide MHFA.
These results indicate that there is a risk of increasing confidence beyond actual knowledge when using such a minimal training procedure. Future research should seek to explore the relationship between knowledge and confidence and devise a training program that is more effective at increasing practical first aid skills.
Sandtorv, Erica, "Mental Health First Aid Training: Evaluating a brief training intervention for college students" (2019). Honors Program Projects. 102.
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