Adolescence is a period of elevated stress sensitivity, which places adolescents at increased risk of developing mental health problems such as burnout, depression, anxiety, and externalizing problems. Early intervention of psychological needs and low-threshold care addressing such needs may prevent this dysfunctional development. Schools may provide an important environment to identify and address psychological needs. The aim of this protocol is to describe the design of a study aiming to evaluate the effectiveness of low-threshold school-based skills-training programs promoting the mental health of adolescents and to examine moderators of the effectiveness.
A Randomized Controlled Trial will be conducted to examine the effectiveness of two school-based skills-training programs aiming to promote mental health by improving either skills to deal with performance anxiety or social skills. A multi-informant (i.e., students, parents, and trainers) and multi-method (i.e., questionnaires and physiological measurements) approach will be used to assess program targets (skills to deal with performance anxiety or social skills), direct program outcomes (performance or social anxiety) and mental health outcomes (i.e., stress, internalizing and externalizing problems, self-esteem and well-being), as well as specific moderators (i.e., student, parent and program characteristics, social support, perfectionism, stressful life events, perceived parental pressure, positive parenting behavior, treatment alliance and program integrity).
The current study will provide information on the effectiveness of school-based skills-training programs. It is of crucial importance that the school environment can provide students with effective, low-threshold intervention programs to promote adolescents’ daily functioning and well-being and prevent the emergence of mental health problems that negatively affect school performance.
Dutch Trial Register number NL7438. Registered 12 December 2018.