Psychological wellbeing and mental health are increasingly recognised as essential for individual health and community productivity (World Health Organisation [WHO], 2021). However, the costs associated with mental health are staggering. The WHO (2016) estimated the annual global economic cost of issues related to mental health is $2.5 trillion (USD) and projects these costs to increase 240% from 2016 to 2030. In Australia, an estimated one in seven (or 560,000) Australian youth experience mental health disorders (Australian Medical Association, 2018). Given the importance of early intervention to minimise the effects of mental illness across the lifespan (Australian Government Department of Health, 2011), it is concerning that only 30% of Australian youth and adolescents report using mental health services (Islam et al., 2020). It has been proposed that this might be addressed using school systems, which provide a “natural and accessible” way to address the mental health issues of youth and adolescents (Werner-Seidler et al., 2017, p. 32). This presentation considers two novel approaches for increasing student engagement with mental health services in school: (1) a martial arts-based psychosocial intervention, and (2) the use of cooperative electronic gaming. The former approach was assessed using a randomised controlled trial of 283 secondary-school participants. Results indicated the experimental conditions’ levels of resilience improved. The latter approach is currently being piloted as an intervention with primary-school participants. Novel approaches can improve psychological strengths, providing "real and compelling" (Sherif, 1956, p. 58) interventions that may facilitate student uptake of mental health services in schools.
Brian Moore, Charles Sturt University, Australia