The Youth Aware of Mental Health Intervention: Impact on Help Seeking, Mental Health Knowledge, and Stigma in U.S. Adolescents

Janet C. Lindow, Jennifer Hughes, Charles South, Abu Minhajuddin, Luis Gutierrez, Elizabeth Bannister, Madhukar H. Trivedi, Matthew J Byerly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Purpose: Suicide is a leading cause of death among U.S. youth aged 12–18 years. Youth Aware of Mental Health (YAM), a promising, universal, school-based mental health promotion/suicide primary prevention intervention for adolescents, has been evaluated in Europe but not in the U.S. The present study used an uncontrolled, pretest/post-test design to document the potential for YAM to reduce suicidal ideation, attempt, and suicide. A demonstration that help seeking behaviors, mental health literacy, and mental health stigmatizing attitudes improve after the intervention would suggest that the program is promising in the U.S., as well as in Europe, and that further investigation is merited. Methods: YAM was delivered to 1,878 students in 11 schools as part of regular school curricula. A subset of these students (n = 436) completed surveys before and 3 months postdelivery. Surveys included five questions about help seeking behaviors, a measure of intent to seek help (General Help Seeking Questionnaire), two mental health literacy scales, and two mental illness stigma scales (Reported and Intended Behavior Scale and Personal Stigma and Social Distance Scale). Both McNemar's test and repeated measures linear models were used to determine whether the survey outcomes changed after YAM delivery. Results: Among the 436 adolescents (286 and 150 in Montana and Texas, respectively), significant increases were found pre- to post-intervention in three of five help seeking behaviors, along with improved mental health literacy and decreased mental health-related stigma. Intent to seek help was unchanged. Conclusions: Several help seeking behavioral factors, mental health knowledge, and stigma improved post-YAM intervention. All three domains are likely protective against suicide. A randomized controlled trial testing the efficacy of YAM in preventing suicidal behaviors is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-107
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • Adolescents
  • Help seeking behaviors
  • Mental health literacy
  • Stigma
  • Suicide
  • Suicide prevention intervention
  • YAM
  • Youth aware of mental health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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