A systematic review of the effectiveness of mental health promotion interventions for young people in low and middle income countries
Interventions promoting the mental health of young people can be implemented effectively in Low Middle Income Countries (LMIC) school and community settings with moderate to strong evidence of their impact on both positive and negative mental health outcomes. Findings from school-based interventions indicated that school-based programmes implemented across diverse LMICs can have significant positive effects on students’ emotional and behavioural wellbeing, including reduced depression and anxiety and improved coping skills. Additionally, evidence from the community-based interventions suggested promising findings concerning the potential of multicomponent interventions to impact on youth mental health and social wellbeing.
Mental health is fundamental to good health and wellbeing, and influences social and economic outcomes across the lifespan. Poor mental health in childhood is associated with health and social problems such as school failure, delinquency and substance misuse, and increases the risk of poverty and other adverse outcomes in adulthood. The aim of this systematic review was to synthesize evidence on the effectiveness of mental health promotion interventions for young people aged 6-18 years that have been implemented in LMICs, and also identify gaps in the existing evidence by highlighting areas where further research is needed. The study findings indicate that interventions promoting the mental health of young people can be implemented effectively in LMIC school and community settings with moderate to strong evidence of their impact on both positive and negative mental health outcomes. However, there is a paucity of evidence relating to interventions for younger children in LMIC primary schools and there is an urgent need for high quality studies with longitudinal designs to strengthen the evidence base in this area. Furthermore, the promising findings from studies evaluating multicomponent community-based interventions (e.g., addressing young people’s sexual and emotional health, HIV prevention, violence prevention, substance misuse etc.,) highlight the need to determine their longer-term impact on more specific mental health outcomes.