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Improving adolescent mental health and resilience through a resilience-based intervention in schools: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial

Julia Dray123*, Jenny Bowman23, Megan Freund123, Elizabeth Campbell123, Luke Wolfenden123, Rebecca K Hodder123 and John Wiggers123

Author Affiliations

1 Hunter New England Population Health, Hunter New England Local Health District, Locked Bag 10, Wallsend, NSW 2287, Australia

2 The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia

3 Hunter Medical Research Institute, Locked Bag 1, Hunter Region Mc, NSW 2310, Australia

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Trials 2014, 15:289  doi:10.1186/1745-6215-15-289

Published: 18 July 2014



Research investigating the effectiveness of universal interventions to reduce the risk of mental health problems remains limited. Schools are a promising setting within which adolescents can receive interventions aimed at promoting their mental health. The aim of this study is to assess the effectiveness of a resilience-based prevention-focused intervention in reducing the risk of mental health problems among adolescents attending secondary school in socio-economically disadvantaged areas.


A cluster randomised control trial will be conducted, with schools as the unit of randomisation. Initially, 32 secondary schools will be randomly allocated to a control or intervention group (12 control and 20 intervention). An intervention focused on improving student internal and external resilience factors will be implemented in intervention schools. A survey of students in Grade 7 in both intervention and control schools will be conducted (baseline) and repeated three years later when the students are in Grade 10. The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire will be used to measure the risk of mental health problems. At follow-up, the risk of mental health problems will be compared between Grade 10 students in intervention and control schools to determine intervention effectiveness.


The study presents an opportunity to determine the effectiveness of a comprehensive resilience-based intervention in reducing the risk of mental health problems in adolescents attending secondary schools. The outcomes of the trial are of importance to youth, schools, mental health clinicians and policymakers.

Trial registration

Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, ACTRN12611000606987, registered 14 June 2011.

adolescence; resilience; school; mental health; risk; intervention; prevention