Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 48, Issue 6, pp 1100–1115 | Cite as

Impact of a Secondary School Depression Prevention Curriculum on Adolescent Social-Emotional Skills: Evaluation of the Resilient Families Program

  • Nikita Singh
  • Matin G. Minaie
  • David R. SkvarcEmail author
  • John W. Toumbourou
Empirical Research


School-based mental health intervention programs have demonstrated efficacy for the prevention and reduction of depressive symptoms, though the effect tends to be variable and is often unsustained longitudinally. However, it is possible that these intervention programs may have an indirect impact on adolescent functioning via positive mediators, and that this influence may predict more durable protective benefits. This study evaluated the efficacy of the Resilient Families program for improving social-emotional skills and depressive symptoms for adolescents over a two-year period. Twenty-four secondary schools in Melbourne, Australia were randomly allocated to either Resilient Families or a control condition. 1826 students (M= 12.3, SD = .05 years at W1; 56% female) completed the curricula and subsequent surveys. Inconsistent with hypotheses, analysis with Structural Equation Modelling revealed that the program had no significant effect on social-emotional skills and these skills had no significant effects on adolescent depressive symptoms. However, family attendance at parent education events within the intervention schools was associated with longitudinal reductions in depressive symptoms. The findings highlight the importance of increasing emphasis on family and community protective factors in adolescent social-emotional development and depression prevention programs.


Resilient Families Social-emotional Depression Prevention School program Intervention 



NHMRC Project Grant No. 251721 provided funding for the original project. NS completed this project as a component of her Clinical Psychology Masters degree at Deakin University. MGM, DRS and JWT are supported as contracted staff members at Deakin University. DRS is also a contracted staff member at Barwon Health.

Authors’ Contributions

NS is the primary author and performed the analyses on the data. MGM assisted with the design of the original study and data set, and assisted with the analyses performed by NS. DRS performed textual edits and prepared the manuscript for submission. JWT conceived of the original study design and provided editorial assistance. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

A potential conflict of interest is noted in that the author JWT holds intellectual property responsibility for the Resilient Families intervention. The remaining authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The Human Research Ethics Committee at the University of Melbourne and Deakin University granted ethics approval (Deakin Ethic’s number 2015-213).

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Statement of Ethics

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The authors further assert their adherence to the ethical standards outlined by the journal.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Deakin UniversitySchool of PsychologyGeelongAustralia
  2. 2.Deakin University, Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development (SEED)GeelongAustralia
  3. 3.Centre for Innovation in Mental and Physical Health and Clinical Treatment (IMPACT), Barwon HealthGeelongAustralia

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