Theses Doctoral

Youth Mental Health First Aid for educators of immigrant-origin youth: A mixed-method evaluation of the virtual delivery approach

Khoo, Olivia Kit Chooi

There is a high prevalence of mental health challenges among immigrant-origin youth (IOY) as a consequence of unique stressors and risk factors, disparities in access to mental health services, and distress associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Educators and school staff are in need of effective, accessible, and culturally relevant mental health literacy (MHL) training to accurately recognize and appropriately respond to these mental health concerns. The main goal of this pilot study was to examine initial evidence on the effectiveness, utility, acceptability, and cultural fit of the virtual format of the Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) training program among educators who work with IOY. A mixed-methods approach was employed through quantitative online surveys at pre-training, post-training, and three-month follow-up as well as qualitative virtual focus groups querying educator and school staff’s perspectives.

Descriptive and inferential analyses were used to quantitatively analyze survey data. Thematic analysis was used to analyze qualitative data. Findings obtained from a total of 36 educators and school staff working predominantly IOY revealed significant improvements in participants’ mental health knowledge, confidence to help, and attitudes towards mental illness that were sustained at three-month follow-up, with some variability based on race, prior mental health training experience, and professional role. The content and format of the virtual YMHFA was also found to be highly rated in its utility and acceptability.

Themes related to utility included (a) crisis response skills and knowledge and (b) flexible scope of use of the training. Themes related to acceptability included the (a) presentation of information, (b) accessibility and convenience, (c) interactive nature of the training, (d) timing and scheduling, and (e) limited content. Themes highlighting the strengths and weaknesses associated with the cultural relevance of the training included (a) inclusivity and specificity and (b) cultural sensitivity and awareness. Themes related to recommendations to improve the cultural relevance of the training included (a) additional knowledge and resources, (b) improving representation in scenarios and videos, and (c) tailoring content to a target audience. Based on these initial findings, several implications for implementation of YMHFA training in schools, improving the cultural relevance of YMHFA for IOY, and future directions in research are discussed.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
School Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Arora, Prerna
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 13, 2022