An Integrated Approach to Addressing the Issue of Youth Depression

At Children for Health we have been looking at ways in which children can help other children build resilience and promote mental health issues. We have been very pleased to come across the following acritcle. The Mental Health Innovation Network has many other useful resources and links too.

An Integrated Approach to Addressing the Issue of Youth Depression

In Malawi and Tanzania, lack of awareness and poor knowledge about common mental disorders contributes to pervasive stigmas that prevent young people from seeking help when needed. This, combined with the dearth of health care providers trained to effectively treat young people with mental disorders, has created an environment where many young people suffer in silence.

This program combines empirically validated methods in school-based mental health literacy, training of community-based health care providers, and behavior change communications to:

  • Raise awareness, improve knowledge and decrease stigma of common mental disorders with a focus on Depression
  • Create demand for effective, easily accessible community-based adolescent mental health care
  • Improve knowledge, attitudes and health seeking behaviors among youth
  • Develop an integrated pathway to care across education and health sectors
  • Build the capacity of community-based health care providers to assess, diagnose and treat adolescent depression

Impact summary

Key indicators primarily assess enhanced mental health literacy and improved early identification of youth with Depression in schools.

  • More than 500,000 young people were reached through the radio program; over 400 teachers and 200 community health providers were trained; over 3,000 young people approached teachers about mental health concerns; and over 1,000 received treatment in community health clinics
  • School interventions significantly improved mental health literacy outcomes for teachers and resulted in direct referrals from schools to community clinics (on average 4 students referred to community health clinics per teacher)
  • All health care providers and teachers trained showed significant improvements to knowledge, personal help-seeking and decreases in stigma
  • Community mental health care for youth now available; about 10% of youth attending clinics diagnosed and successfully treated for Depression

“I lost both parents and I have suffered from depression for a long time without realizing that it was depression and an illness…but with the Nkhawa Njee radio program I managed to pick myself up, and something good happened—I am still at school. I am no longer worried and depressed. Thank you so much guys. Keep it real”-Ben Wakulu Mwale, regular listener to program in Malawi