A handbook to promote mental health, psychological well-being and emotional intelligence in secondary schools: evaluation of likeliness and usefulness

Manuale per la promozione della salute mentale, del benessere psicologico e dell'intelligenza emotiva nella scuola: valutazioni di gradimento e di utilità

F. Mirabella, D. Del Re, G. Palumbo, I. Cascavilla, A. Gigantesco

Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Reparto di Salute Mentale



At the end of 2007, the Mental Health Unit of the National Institute of Health has obtained a grant by the Health Ministry to evaluate the feasibility of a schoolbased mental health promotion program. In this paper we report preliminary results of this evaluation.


The program was designed to extend over 20 sessions, which may take place in classroom every week or every other week. The duration of each session is from 60 to about 90 minutes. The program is organized around a handbook for students, an structured intervention manual which was developed by the above-mentioned Mental Health Unit. The handbook consists of 18 chapters on how to communicate in an effective and assertive way, deal with conflict and anger, develop self-discipline, negotiate, cooperate and promote positive interpersonal relationships (Fig. 1). The theoretical parts are often interrupted by the instructions to carry out small group discussions, and role-playing exercises.

Two hundred fifty three 12-18 years old students attending 13 different classrooms coming from 11 high and middle schools volunteered to participate in the feasibility study of the program. Students’ opinions on friendliness, likeness and usefulness of each chapter of the handbook were investigated by means of an anonymous questionnaire.


Overall, students found the handbook to be acceptable and feasible (Tables I-II). However, many students commented that the sessions were too short to achieve the relevant objectives of the majority of chapters. After evaluating each chapter, some of them were slightly modified.


Because of its user-friendliness and acceptability, the program may be suitable for routine use in secondary schools. The revised version of the handbook was done and sent for printing.

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