Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

School-Based Project Improves Girls' Coping Skills

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

School-Based Project Improves Girls' Coping Skills

Article excerpt

TORONTO -- A pilot program aimed at building resiliency and coping skills in teenage girls appears to decrease symptoms of depression and increase self-esteem in those at risk for major depressive disorder.

Researchers also hope that the skills taught in the Resourceful Adolescents Project will have a positive impact on other psychological problems that the teens might face, such as eating disorders, substance abuse, and rule violations, Vicky Veitch Wolfe, Ph.D., said at the joint annual meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

"We see a sharp increase in mental health problems in adolescents," noted Dr. Wolfe, who is with the Children's Hospital of the University of Western Ontario in London. "Up to 10% of high school girls develop depression, and 24% of girls report at least one episode of depression during their adolescence. This program is designed to help girls transition between middle school and high school, where we start to see the increase in depression."

The Resourceful Adolescent Project (RAP), which was first developed in Australia and New Zealand, is administered as part of a school's health curriculum. In Dr. Wolfe's pilot project, the program consisted of 10 70-minute sessions taught by a RAP psychologist and other mental health professionals.

The program's classroom topics included recognizing and regulating bodily stress; correcting negative self-talk; building personal strengths, problem solving, and conflict resolution skills; developing a strong social support network; using humor as a coping mechanism; and effective goal setting.

In addition to classroom activities and discussion, the students used a specially designed workbook and received regular homework assignments. Those activities were graded.

The program was instituted in 12 schools in one Ontario county; 807 ninth-grade girls were enrolled, with half receiving the intervention program and half receiving their normal health education class. …

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