Middle school students are at a challenging age due to the stresses of puberty, peer pressure, family, and media. However, public middle schools offer little mental health support other than counseling or disciplinary actions after problems arise. Whether a classroom-based program could help promote mental health in middle school students has not yet been established. The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate the feasibility of a 6-week, interactive, classroom program, MasterMind: Empower Yourself with Mental Health, in addressing adolescent mental health problems. Specifically, the weekly sessions created a forum to discuss mental health topics and provided tools to develop and maintain mental well-being throughout adolescence. The weekly session topics were self-esteem, media literacy, mental health support resources, communication skills, emotions (as well as depression and suicide), and “de-stressing” and setting goals. The session format included individual assignments, small group activities, and large group discussions. The forum and tools provided by the program were enthusiastically received and judged appropriate by the students and teacher. While the students were already aware of the issues addressed by the program, they were able to explore them in depth. The tools provided included de-stressing techniques, contact information for resources, and skills to identify warning signs. The students participated actively and ranked the topics as highly relevant. The teacher judged the content and activities as appropriate and was impressed with the depth of student participation and discussion. This study supports the feasibility of a classroom-based preventive program to promote mental health in adolescent students and justifies further study using validated assessment tools in larger populations. The pilot program was designed to be flexible so that modifications can be made to adapt it to different target populations. Ideally, MasterMind could serve as a mental health program template benefiting different populations within a classroom setting.
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