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Effectiveness of Youth Mental Health First Aid USA for Social Work Students

The School of Social Work's Theda Rose, PhD, Judith Leitch, PhD Candidate, Kathryn Collins, PhD, and Jodi Jacobson Frey, PhD are authors of a new study published in Research in Social Work Practice.

Purpose: Adolescent mental health is a public health priority. Considered an early intervention approach, Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) trains adults to provide initial assistance to adolescents experiencing a mental health problem or crisis. This study evaluated the effectiveness of the U.S. version of YMHFA (YMHFA-USA) among graduate social work students.

Method: A quasi-experimental design (N = 73; intervention, n = 39; comparison, n = 34), using the Mental Health Beliefs and Literacy Scale, assessed the effectiveness of YMHFA-USA. Outcomes were measured at pretest, posttest, and 5 months in the intervention group. Differences between groups were compared at 5 months.


Statistically significant improvements in attitudes, beliefs, self-confidence, and knowledge were observed among intervention group students. At 5 months, these students had significantly better attitudes and greater knowledge and self-confidence than the comparison group.


Results indicate YMHFA-USA may improve factors related to master’s level social work students’ abilities to engage with youth experiencing mental health problems.

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