Mental health promotion in comprehensive schools

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Markku Larmas auditorium (H1091), Aapstie 3

Topic of the dissertation

Mental health promotion in comprehensive schools

Doctoral candidate

Master of Health sciences Anna Onnela

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Medicine, Research Unit of Clinical Medicine (PEDEGO)

Subject of study

child psychiatry


professor Kirsti Kumpulainen, Univeristy of Eastern Finland


Professor Hanna Ebeling, University of Oulu

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Mental health promotion in comprehensive schools

Mental health problems are common in children and adolescents and many adulthood mental health disorders begin in childhood or adolescence. As schools are everyday environments for children and adolescents, mental health promotion interventions may be especially effective when delivered within them.
The aim of this study was to illuminate a mental health promotion model in comprehensive schools as well as to investigate school professionals’ and students’ perceptions of mental health promotion. Findings from previous studies obtained from a literature review were used to examine what kinds of mental health promotion interventions have previously been developed.

Written material produced in mental health promotion development workshops was used to describe a model of mental health promotion for comprehensive school in Oulu. A questionnaire was used to gather school professionals’ perceptions of student wellbeing and mental health promotion as well as students’ perceptions and attitudes towards mental health disorders, help-seeking and a classroom based psychoeducative intervention.
According to the results mental health is promoted on multiple levels in schools. The interventions take place on individual, indicated and universal levels. School professionals regarded mental health interventions to be an integral part of school activity. School professionals considered that student well-being has declined and that students show a general disregard for their own well-being. Students recognized symptoms of mental health problems very well and were generally willing to interact with individuals with mental health problems. Students were more willing to seek help from family members and friends than professionals. The most unlikely source to seek help from were school professionals, teachers in particular. The most common barriers to help-seeking were fear of a negative response, embarrassment, and lack of usefulness of the offered help. Students regarded the psychoeducation intervention as a positive experience and reported gaining useful knowledge on mental health.
Last updated: 23.1.2024