Mental health literacy is foundational for mental health promotion, prevention, stigma reduction and care. Integrated school mental health literacy interventions may offer an effective and sustainable approach to enhancing mental health literacy for educators and students globally.
Through a Grand Challenges Canada funded initiative called ‘An Integrated Approach to Addressing the Issue of Youth Depression in Malawi and Tanzania’, we culturally adapted a previously demonstrated effective Canadian school mental health curriculum resource (the Guide) for use in Malawi, the African Guide: Malawi version (AGMv), and evaluated its impact on enhancing mental health literacy for educators (teachers and youth club leaders) in 35 schools and 15 out-of-school youth clubs in the central region of Malawi. The pre- and post-test study designs were used to assess mental health literacy – knowledge and attitudes – of 218 educators before and immediately following completion of a 3-day training programme on the use of the AGMv.
Results demonstrated a highly significant and substantial improvement in knowledge (p < 0.0001, d = 1.16) and attitudes (p < 0.0001, d = 0.79) pertaining to mental health literacy in study participants. There were no significant differences in outcomes related to sex or location.
These positive results suggest that an approach that integrates mental health literacy into the existing school curriculum may be an effective, significant and sustainable method of enhancing mental health literacy for educators in Malawi. If these results are further found to be sustained over time, and demonstrated to be effective when extended to students, then this model may be a useful and widely applicable method for improving mental health literacy among both educators and students across Africa.