Young people's perceptions of mental and physical health in the context of general wellbeing.

Craig Bartle, J.H. Singletary, N Svirydzenka, N.M. Suter-Giorgini, A.M. Cashmore

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)


    Objectives: Increased recognition of the need for health education in schools has seen advances in health
    literacy in recent years. Most of these have focussed on physical health, whereas education about mental
    health is generally lacking and focussed on tackling stigma rather than promoting good mental health. This
    study evaluated a pilot intervention designed to improve young people’s understanding of good mental
    health as a key aspect of wellbeing and explored their perceptions of health and wellbeing.
    Methods: A total of 218 13-year-olds participated in an interactive workshop about healthy eating, physical
    activity and mental health. Young people’s understanding and perceptions were assessed through anonymous
    questionnaires at the start and end of the workshop. Common themes were identified and differences preand
    post-workshop and between girls and boys were analysed.
    Results: Nearly all young people (100% before, 97% after) perceived being healthy to mean being physically
    healthy. A minority (8%) also considered mental health to be a component of general health, which
    increased to 12% after the workshop. Understandings of mental health broadened after the workshop.
    Interestingly, many mentioned physical health when asked to describe mental health, both before and after
    the workshop. Girls’ and boys’ responses were similar except for more girls including social relationships in
    their descriptions of mental health.
    Conclusion: In this study, we have discovered much about how young people perceive health in general
    and mental health. Such information is useful for targeting future interventions. Students’ understanding of
    mental health and its importance to wellbeing can be improved through short combined health interventions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)257-269
    Number of pages13
    JournalHealth Education Journal
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


    • Adolescent health
    • attitudes to health
    • health education
    • intervention
    • mental health


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