The Sources of Strength Australia project: A cluster randomised controlled trial of a peer-connectedness school-based program to promote help-seeking in adolescents

Alison L. Calear*, Sonia M. McCallum, Helen Christensen, Andrew J. Mackinnon, Alexandra Nicolopoulos, Jacqueline L. Brewer, Aliza Werner-Seidler, Alyssa R. Morse, Dominique Kazan, Louise M. Farrer, Laura Kampel, Philip J. Batterham

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Background: Suicide is a significant public health problem and there is a clear need for interventions to improve help seeking for suicide and psychological distress in young people. This trial aimed to assess the effectiveness of the school-based Sources of Strength program in increasing help-seeking intentions and behaviours in adolescents. Methods: A cluster, randomised controlled trial was conducted in 13 Australian secondary schools (N = 1633), with each school randomly allocated to the intervention (n = 7) or wait-list control condition (n = 6). Participants in the intervention condition received the Sources of Strength program over two years and all participants completed self-report measures of help-seeking intentions and behaviour at four time-points. Staff and students in the intervention condition also provided qualitative feedback on the perceived impact of the program. Results: Mixed model repeated measures analyses demonstrated no significant effect of the Sources of Strength program on help-seeking intentions or behaviour at post-intervention or 6- or 18-month follow-up. Staff and students reported, through qualitative feedback, that the program increased awareness of and openness to help seeking and promoted a common language and school community. Limitations: The current study only included self-report measures that may have been influenced by situational factors or biases. Conclusions: Although the Sources of Strength program may have increased awareness of help seeking, there was no evidence that it is effective in increasing help-seeking intentions or behaviours in this cohort. The program may be more suitable for schools in disadvantaged areas where there may be limited existing connections to trusted adults.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)435-443
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
    Volume299
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2022

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