What should a universal school-based psychoeducational programme to support psychological well-being amongst children and young people in South Africa focus on and how should it be delivered? A multi-stakeholder perspective

Bronwyne Coetzee, Hermine Gericke, Suzanne Human, Paul Stallard, Maria Loades

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Children and young people are vulnerable to developing mental health problems. In South Africa, this vulnerability is compounded by contextual risk factors such as community violence and poverty. However, mental health services are scarce and costly, which precludes access for many. Universal school-based mental health programmes can prevent the onset of mental health problems in children and young people and have been implemented to good effect in high-income settings. We sought to understand stakeholder perspectives on what such a programme should focus on and how it could be implemented in practice within the South African context. We interviewed children and young people (n = 22), parents (n = 21), teachers (n = 17), and school mental health counsellors (n = 6) recruited from two schools in the Western Cape, South Africa. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically. We generated three overarching themes: ‘the value of a mental health and well-being programme’, ‘content and delivery’, and ‘practicalities and logistics’. Participants were optimistic about the potential value of such a programme. Developing content that was appropriate for group delivery, flexible and timed to fit within the school schedule was important. Finding ways to make activities meaningful for large classes was important logistically, as was determining to what extent leaners would feel comfortable participating alongside their peers. Participants felt that outsiders, as opposed to school staff, should deliver the programme and that parents should be involved where possible. Developing a mental health programme for children and young people in the South African context requires careful understanding of who the key role players in such an intervention will be and how exactly they want to be involved and, how the challenges associated with practicalities and logistics can be overcome.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-200
Number of pages12
JournalSchool Mental Health
Volume14
Issue number1
Early online date13 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Children and young people
  • Depression
  • Prevention
  • School-based
  • South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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