Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 49, Issue 10, pp 1655–1666 | Cite as

A multifaceted intervention to improve mental health literacy in students of a multicampus university: a cluster randomised trial

  • Nicola J. Reavley
  • Terence V. McCann
  • Stefan Cvetkovski
  • Anthony F. Jorm
Original Paper



The aim of the current study was to assess whether a multifaceted intervention could improve mental health literacy, facilitate help seeking and reduce psychological distress and alcohol misuse in students of a multicampus university in Melbourne, Australia.


In this cluster randomized trial, nine university campuses were paired (some pairs included more than one campus), with one of each pair randomly assigned to either the intervention or control condition. The interventions were designed to be whole-of-campus and to run over 2 academic years with their effectiveness assessed through recruitment of a monitoring sample of students from each campus. Interventions included emails, posters, campus events, factsheets/booklets and mental health first aid training courses. Participants had a 20-min telephone interview at baseline and at the end of academic years 1 and 2. This assessed mental health literacy, help seeking, psychological distress and alcohol use. The primary outcomes were depression and anxiety levels and alcohol use and pertained to the individual level.


There were no effects on psychological distress and alcohol use. Recall of intervention elements was greater in the intervention group at the end of year 2. Students in the intervention group were more likely to say they would go to a drug and alcohol centre for alcohol problems at the end of 6 months.


Although education and awareness may play a role in improving mental health literacy, it is likely that, to achieve changes in psychological distress, interventions would need to be more personalized and intensive.


Mental health literacy Students Depression Anxiety Alcohol misuse 



Funding for the study was provided by beyondblue and by the NHMRC Australia Fellowship awarded to AFJ. We would particularly like to acknowledge Fiona Blee for her work on implementing the MindWise interventions. We would also like to thank Prof John McCallum for championing the trial at Victoria University, Dr Darko Hajzler for his assistance in implementing the interventions and Prof Dan Lubman for his advice on the assessment of alcohol misuse and the implementation of interventions to address this.

Conflict of interest

None declared.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicola J. Reavley
    • 1
  • Terence V. McCann
    • 2
  • Stefan Cvetkovski
    • 1
  • Anthony F. Jorm
    • 1
  1. 1.Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, Centre for Youth Mental Health and Melbourne School of Population and Global HealthUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  2. 2.College of Health and BiomedicineVictoria UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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