Innovative approach to adolescent mental health in Japan: School-based education about mental health literacy

Yasutaka Ojio, Ryoichi Mori, Kazunori Matsumoto, Takahiro Nemoto, Tomiki Sumiyoshi, Hirokazu Fujita, Tsubasa Morimoto, Aya Nishizono-Maher, Chiyo Fuji, Masafumi Mizuno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: Improving mental health literacy through school-based education may encourage mental health promotion, prevention and care and reduce stigma in adolescents. In Japan, instruction about mental illness has been formulated in a Course of Study that reflects governmental curriculum guidelines, which will be enforced from 2022 to promote an understanding of current issues of adolescent health. Educational resources available to schoolteachers have been developed. This article describes the development processes and contents of these resources. Methods: Our collaborating team, consisting of mental health professionals and schoolteachers, developed educational resources, based on feedback from high school students in general and young people who had experienced mental health problems. Results: The new Course of Study covers: (1) mechanisms of mental illness, prevalence, age at onset, risk factors and treatability; (2) typical symptoms of mental health problems and illnesses; (3) self-help strategies for prevention of and recovery from mental illness; (4) enhancing help-seeking and helping behaviour and (5) decreasing stigma associated with people with mental health problems. The educational strategy is targeted at high school students (grades 10-12) and is conducted by teachers of health and physical education. The educational resources include short story animated films, filmed social contact and educators' manuals, which are freely available through the internet and open to all concerned including schoolteachers in Japan. Conclusions: Our efforts are expected to help implement mental health education of the public throughout Japan and other countries and promote the practice of early intervention and prevention of mental illnesses in adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-182
Number of pages9
JournalEarly Intervention in Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Feb
Externally publishedYes


  • adolescents
  • early intervention
  • mental health literacy
  • school
  • stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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