Weare, Katherine and Markham, Wolfgang
What do we know about promoting mental health
Promotion & Education, XII, (3-4), .
There is a growing evidence base on what schools need to do to
promote mental health effectively. There is strong evidence that they need first and foremost to use a whole school approach. This shapes the social contexts which promote mental health
and which provide a backdrop of measures to prevent mental health disorders. In this context the targeting of those with articular needs and the work of the specialist services can be
much more effective. Schools need to use positive models of mental health, which emphasise well being and competence not just illness– this will help overcome problems of stigma and
denial and promote the idea of mental health as ‘everyone’s business’. The most effective programmes in schools
which address mental health have the following characteristics:
• They provide a backdrop of universal provision to promote the mental health of all and then target those with special needs effectively.
• They are multi-dimensional and coherent.
• They create supportive climates that promote warmth, empathy, positive expectations and clear boundaries.
• They tackle mental health problems early when they first manifest themselves and then take a long term, developmental approach which does not expect immediate answers.
• They identify and target vulnerable and at risk groups and help people to acquire the skills and competences that underlie mental health.
• They involve end users and their families in ways that encourage a feeling of ownership and participation, and provide effective training for those who run the programmes, including
helping them to promote their own mental health.
Using these starting points, we need to develop a rigorous evidence- based approach on this issue. We also require
to facilitate the dissemination of such research findings while encouraging new and innovative approaches.
Actions (login required)