Health Action in ScHools for a Thriving Adolescent Generation (HASHTAG)
Health Action in ScHools for a Thriving Adolescent Generation (HASHTAG) is a 2-year project funded by UK Medical Research Council (MRC) which is being implemented in Nepal and South Africa. It is led by the university of Stellenbosch, Cape Town, South Africa.
Globally, many adolescents live in unstable environments, where poverty, conflict, or abuse is common. In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), multiple factors place adolescents at special risk. Factors such as poverty, migration, interpersonal violence, early and forced marriage, contrasts between adolescents’ lived reality and their aspirations, and gender norms can pose structural and societal barriers to adolescent wellbeing. When experienced from an early age, these risk factors can lead to later suboptimal mental health, mental disorders or risky behaviours, such as substance use, or physical violence. As a result, mental health represents an important area for intervention. HASHTAG aims to address the gap in evidence by developing and adapting a multilevel, multi-component gender-sensitive intervention targeting a range of negative mental and physical health outcomes by promoting positive mental health; preventing mental disorders (specifically, depression and anxiety); and preventing a range of risk behaviors (substance use, violence, problem sexual behaviors) among at-risk adolescents.
HASHTAG aims to address the gap in evidence by developing and adapting a multilevel, multicomponent gender-sensitive intervention in LMICs for young at-risk adolescents targeting a range of negative mental and physical health outcomes by:
- Promoting positive mental health
- Preventing mental disorders (specifically, depression and anxiety)
- Preventing a range of risk behaviours (substance use, violence, problem sexual behaviours).
HASHTAG will be conducted in two phases: development and feasibility. First, a school-level assessment, planning and action process, Thriving Environment in Schools(TES), will be conducted to improve school climate. School climate is defined as staff and students’ perceptions of the school environment, which is influenced by the school organisational structure, relationships among staff and students, and their attitudes and behaviours. These types of strategies aim to change the contexts within which health and health behaviours are produced and are key to school health improvement. They may include school-level policies, altering ways of working in schools to better support student health, or built environment changes in schools to improve student safety . Second, adolescents will participate in a group psychosocial intervention, Thrive Together (TT). The framework of Thrive Together builds on our analysis which found seven programme components that predicted effectiveness over multiple outcomes: interpersonal skills, emotional regulation, stress management, mindfulness, problem solving, assertiveness training, and alcohol and drug education.
Target group: HASHTAG is a multilevel school-based health improvement intervention for young at-risk adolescents aged 11-15 years.
Implementation area: HASHTAG will be implemented in Kanepokhari Rural Municipality of Morang district.
Time frame: Two years (April 2020 to March 2022)
Supported by: UK Medical Research Council (MRC)
Partners: Stellenbosch University (SU), Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (TPO) Nepal, World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), and the University of Cape Town (UCT)