Developing and evaluating a peer-based mental health literacy intervention with adolescent athletes

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Widespread adolescent involvement in organized sport means that sport contexts are well-suited to ‘actively’ integrate prevention programs that may promote population-level change. This mixed methods study aimed to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of a peer-based mental health literacy intervention. The intervention (i.e., Team Talk) was presented to eleven adolescent sport teams in the United States, with a total of 174 participants. Athlete participants completed surveys immediately before and after the intervention—including measures of workshop acceptability, social identity, and help-seeking behaviors. Semi-structured interviews were also conducted with a subset of five athletes, nine parents, and two coaches. With respect to recruitment as an indicator of feasibility, club-level adoption of the intervention was low, with difficulty recruiting clubs for intervention delivery. This signals that feasibility of the intervention–as it is currently designed and implemented by the research team–is low when considering similar competitive adolescent sport clubs and delivered as team-level workshops. Meanwhile, participants reported high acceptability of the intervention, and acceptability levels across participants was predicted by contextual factors related to implementation such as session duration. Regarding limited efficacy testing with measures completed before and after the intervention session: (a) social identity scores increased following the intervention, and (b) significant differences were not identified regarding efficacy to recognize symptoms of mental disorders. Athlete, coach, and parent interview responses also described potential adaptations to mental health programs. This research demonstrates the potential utility of peer-based mental health literacy interventions, while also revealing that further implementation research is necessary to adapt mental health literacy interventions to suit diverse adolescent sport contexts.

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12 December

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