School of Nursing
Date of Degree
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Dr. Mercedes Echevarria; Dr. Jennifer Walsh
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA); School-aged children
Background: School-aged children with unidentified mental illnesses experience poor health outcomes and increased medical costs. Successful management of this public health threat requires a collaborative community approach with a focus on enhancing adults’ mental health literacy (MHL) to improve outcomes.
Objectives: The objectives of this project were to implement an evidence-based mental health education (utilizing MHFA) and sustainment program within a school setting for staff and parents supervising children to optimize the adults' MHL over a three month period.
Methods: A pretest-posttest design was used. Participants were recruited from a school in the Western United States. Inclusion criteria consisted of: English speaking, male and female school staff and parents of any ethnicity (with supervisory roles), aged 18-65 years, and no previous MHFA training. The intervention included MHFA training by the Nurse Leader. All participants were asked to complete the Mental Health Literacy Scale (MHLS) to measure baseline and postintervention MHL. Sustainment was achieved by developing a school-centered mental health toolkit (measured for usability) and integrating a school mental health champion.
Results: The sample size consisted of 15 staff and parents. There was a statistically significant MHL score change from pretest to posttest, p = < 0.001. The toolkit bolstered sustainability by increasing utilization of community resources/mental health aids.
Conclusions: Mobilizing lay people as MHFA responders serves as a powerful tool to curb mental health crises. Healthy People seeks to extinguish this burdensome threat with early identification and intervention; implementing communal mental health practices affords the opportunity to meet such initiatives.
©2022 Kate Wachutka. All rights reserved.
Wachutka, K. (2022). Mental Health First Aid (MHFA): Implementing an Evidence-Based Practice Change Initiative in a School Setting. , (). Retrieved from https://hsrc.himmelfarb.gwu.edu/son_dnp/104