Interventions, Mental Health, Metacognition

The reason for the study is to address the shortcomings of past studies in mental health interventions, which lacked stringent inclusion criteria and diverse moderators. The aim is to employ more rigorous methods to provide updated and evidence-based results on interventions targeting anxiety or depression. This study presents an updated analysis with more inclusion criteria and additional moderators, such as baseline equivalence and program duration.

School-Based Interventions With Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Have Been Found To Be Effective in Treating Mental Health Symptoms

The universal approach treats the entire population regardless of individual conditions, while the targeted approach treats only those with elevated symptoms. Universal programs aim to prevent, while targeted ones aim to cure. Targeted interventions require extensive screening efforts and may lead to labeling and stigma. However, they have shown effectiveness. Universal programs avoid stigma but are costlier and may reach fewer children. Investigating the effectiveness of each approach can offer valuable insights for implementation.

Through Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) interventions, students gain skills to understand and cope with their feelings, such as using relaxation techniques and interacting with peers more effectively. School-based interventions with CBT components are found effective in reducing depressive symptoms and anxiety, and improving coping strategies.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Should Be Incorporated in School-Based Mental Health Programs

The study ensured a thorough literature search using various methods like database searches, handsearching, and checking references. The first author searched for relevant articles using specific keywords in databases like Google Scholar. Additionally, they manually searched reputable journals. The screening process involved three steps: initially, the first author selected 2308 studies. Then, these studies underwent double-blinded screening, and disagreements were resolved through a group discussion involving the third author. 

The analysis of moderators indicates that studies focusing on anxiety outcomes, employing cognitive behavioral therapy, interventions administered by clinicians, and targeting secondary school populations tend to yield positive results. Additionally, selection modeling identified notable biases in publication and outcome selection. Consequently, this meta-analysis recommends that school-based mental health programs consider incorporating cognitive behavioral therapy delivered by clinicians, particularly at the secondary school level, to enhance effectiveness.

Schools Need To Enhance Mental Health Services for Their Students

There is a pressing demand for schools to enhance mental health services for students, yet current studies lack comprehensive insights into effective interventions. With a rising number of students experiencing depression and anxiety, identifying evidence-based models for school-based mental health interventions is crucial. 

Overall, the analysis reveals a significant positive impact of school-based interventions on depression and anxiety symptoms compared to control groups. Interestingly, interventions addressing anxiety appear more effective than those targeting depression, with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) programs showing especially promising outcomes. These findings contribute valuable insights into designing effective mental health interventions tailored for school settings.

Notable Quotes: 

“There exists a prolific amount of school-based mental health interventions, yet the quality of such interventions varies greatly.”

“In recent years, depression and anxiety have increased rapidly among 6-17 years old American children.”

“Approximately 9.4% 3–17-year-old children were diagnosed with anxiety problems and 31.5% 13-18-year-old children have experienced depression.”

Personal Takeaway: 

I agree with the authors of the study that urgent measures need to be taken to address the mental health crisis that is currently prevalent among young people. Cognitive behavior therapy has been a proven solution to address mental health disorders, and if a program can be created for school-going students to receive this support, I am certain that the results will be positive.—Shekufeh

Zhang, Q., Wang, J., & Neitzel, A. (2023). School-based mental health interventions targeting depression or anxiety: A meta-analysis of rigorous randomized controlled trials for school-aged children and adolescents. Journal of youth and adolescence, 52(1), 195-217.

We should be creating awareness of the existence of perpetuated educational psychology misconceptions and the lack of published literature on the effects of the spread of unjustified belief systems in K-12 teaching practices.

Misconceptions Influence Learning

The consequences of the proliferation of false information, a prevalent phenomenon labeled as “post-truths” in this digital age, are severe and profound, perpetuated through ineffective teaching strategies and misinterpretation of the science of learning, influencing pedagogy, learning environments, and curriculum development (Woolfolk Hoy, David and Pape, 2006), and contributing to the societal inability to learn accurate information (Chinn and Malhotra, 2002).

Misconceptions don’t exist due to the lack of exposure to information, but due to the existing fallacious knowledge that needs to be unlearned (Sinatra 2014) brought about by subjective evaluation and erroneous application of empirical data to the field of education.

While some educators question the integrity of evidence-based information, many teachers selectively reject scientific evidence and embrace misconceptions to avoid stress and conflict.

Decreasing Acceptance of Misconceptions With More Advanced Critical Thinking 

Researchers Morgan McAfee and Bobby Hoffman reviewed four prominent educational psychology journals and looked into 135 peer-reviewed articles. Primary research sources examined diverse samples consisting of undergraduate psychology students and utilized a true-false response format to identify misconceptions, and a Likert-type scale to measure the intensity of the misconceptions. According to the college samples, differences in the frequency of misconceptions are unable to establish a pattern. However, similarities among those with advanced education revealed a heightened perception of psychology as a science and a decreased acceptance of misconceptions by groups with higher course grades and critical thinking skills.

Mitigating Myths

To eradicate myths and misguided notions, research data and empirical principles must be carefully interpreted and communicated to individuals who lack domain-specific knowledge. Even with the intention of improving and enhancing learning outcomes, concepts can be sensationalized by popular media and misapplied to educational endeavors. Recently, more attention has been given to specific myths related to learning, neuroscience or brain-based education, technology in education, and educational policy.

Appropriate instrumentation should be developed to mitigate pervasive myths and educational psychology misconceptions, and discussion should be encouraged among educators to express dissatisfaction with such errant beliefs and advocate conceptual change efforts (Gregoire, 2003; Muis et al 2018). This can be achieved through teacher training and professional development sessions where these flawed thinking processes can be mediated.

Notable Quotes: 

“Individuals discount objective knowledge and evidence because dissonance is perceived as a threat leading to stress and anxiety, feelings that abate when the misconception is embraced” (Gregoire, 2003).

“Educators, educational policymakers and educational researchers should reject educational approaches that lack sufficient scientific support and methodologically sound empirical evidence” (Kirschner and van Merriënboer, 2013).

“Individuals will persistently retain their existing conception while rejecting the new, accurate information to protect their entrenched belief, often satisfying a robust personal or social goal” (Chinn & Brewer, 1993).

Personal Takeaway

It is said that we cannot change people’s minds, but we, as educators, have the capacity to influence and uphold our search for ideals to some extent and enlighten ourselves whenever we possibly can, overcoming one misconception at a time. When we do, we act as educators. This study is about the core and purpose of education. It is about being brave enough to welcome shifts in mindsets, which may eventually effectuate societal changes. As a teacher who wants to see changes happen, it starts off with our beliefs and attitudes toward education. This impacts me personally because even within the walls of the institution where we work, the educators that need to keep young minds open, inquisitive and resilient may themselves be the ones that are resistant to change.


Adrian Pasos

Summarized Article:

McAfee, Morgan and Hoffman, Bobby (2021) “The Morass of Misconceptions: How Unjustified Beliefs Influence Pedagogy and Learning,” International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Vol. 15: No. 1, Article 4.