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BACKGROUND: Lifetime trajectories of mental ill-health are often established during adolescence. Effective interventions to prevent the emergence of mental health problems are needed. In the current study we assessed the efficacy of the cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)-informed Climate Schools universal eHealth preventive mental health programme, relative to a control. We also explored whether the intervention had differential effects on students with varying degrees of social connectedness. METHOD: We evaluated the efficacy of the Climate Schools mental health programme (19 participating schools; average age at baseline was 13.6) v. a control group (18 participating schools; average age at baseline was 13.5) which formed part of a large cluster randomised controlled trial in Australian schools. Measures of internalising problems, depression and anxiety were collected at baseline, immediately following the intervention and at 6-, 12- and 18-months post intervention. Immediately following the intervention, 2539 students provided data on at least one outcome of interest (2065 students at 18 months post intervention). RESULTS: Compared to controls, we found evidence that the standalone mental health intervention improved knowledge of mental health, however there was no evidence that the intervention improved other mental health outcomes, relative to a control. Student's social connectedness did not influence intervention outcomes. CONCLUSION: These results are consistent with recent findings that universal school-based, CBT-informed, preventive interventions for mental health have limited efficacy in improving symptoms of anxiety and depression when delivered alone. We highlight the potential for combined intervention approaches, and more targeted interventions, to better improve mental health outcomes.

Original publication




Journal article


Psychol Med

Publication Date





5042 - 5051


Adolescence, mental health, prevention, randomised controlled trial, school intervention, social networks, Adolescent, Humans, Depression, Friends, Australia, Anxiety, Anxiety Disorders