Empowering Youth Through Mental Health Education: Using a Popular Education Framework to Facilitate Discussions Around Mental Health

Laura Hurley, MPH, Rush Medical College, [email protected]
Ellie Battino, BA, Rush Medical College, [email protected]
Clara Ledsky, BA, Rush Medical College, [email protected]









1.    Describe the use of popular education framework in revising mental health education curriculum for middle school participants
2.    Evaluate the ability of the revised curriculum to facilitate changes in knowledge, attitudes, and practices about mental health among participants

Youth in Chicago’s under-invested neighborhoods are disproportionately likely to face mental health concerns. The organization 5+1=20 promotes health equity through education in Chicago public schools.

We aimed to create a participatory mental health curriculum for middle schools in 5+1=20 and compare its performance to the current curriculum.

We created and piloted a three-day curriculum in two Pilsen middle schools. Students taught the existing curriculum acted as controls. We administered a KAP (Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices) survey before and after, to both groups.

22 students participated in the new curriculum, and 11 students participated in the control, with 41% and 64% survey completion, respectively. On the pre-survey (scored 0 to 100, higher scores represent greater understanding), intervention and control students scored similarly (mean score of 62.7 compared to 61.9). Intervention students saw a mean improvement of 13.4 points (SD = 19.8, range = -15.4 to 43.6) compared to a mean 4.8 point-improvement (SD = 19.8, range = -30.8 to 30.8) among the control group.

Comparing KAP improvement scores showed that students participating in the new curriculum may have had greater gains in mental health knowledge, attitudes, and practices.