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Lancet. 1998 Sep 26;352(9133):1022-5.

Randomised trial of impact of school mental-health programme in rural Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

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Institute of Psychiatry, WHO Collaborating Centre for Mental Health Research and Training, Rawalpindi Medical College, Pakistan.



A school mental-health programme has been developed as a component of the community mental-health programme in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. It has the objective of improving the understanding of disorders of mental health in the rural community. We aimed to assess the impact of a school mental-health programme on the awareness of schoolchildren, their parents, friends who were not attending school, and neighbours.


We chose two secondary schools for boys and two for girls that were similar in terms of size, staff-pupil ratio, and drop-out rates. 100 children aged 12-16 years (25 girls and 25 boys in each of the study and control groups), 100 parents (one for each child), 100 friends who did not attend school (one for each child), and 100 neighbours (one for each child) were given a 19-item questionnaire before and after the study group had had a 4-month programme of mental-health education. The maximum score for the questionnaire was 16 points.


Before the school mental-health programme the awareness of mental-health issues was poor (mean score 5.7-7.6) in the four groups of participants. In the study group there was a significant improvement in the mean scores after the school programme in the schoolchildren (mean improvement 7.6 [95% CI 6.7-8.5], p<0.01), their parents (5.3 [4.5-6.1], p<0.01), friends (5.1 [4.1-6.1], p<0.01), and neighbours (3.4 [2.6-4.2], p<0.01). In the control group the difference in awareness was significant only in schoolchildren (1.5 [0.5-2.3], p=0.01) and their friends (0.8 [0.3-1.3], p<0.01).


The school programme succeeded in improving awareness of mental health in schoolchildren and the community. The schoolchildren were receptive to the programme, and shared their new understanding with family, friends, and neighbours. Mental-health planners who wish to improve community awareness of mental health, particularly in areas with low literacy rates, should consider setting up school mental-health programmes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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