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Mental Fitness and Assessing Positive Mental Health in School Settings: Findings from Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick J. MacDonald, PhD; D. Murnaghan,

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Presentation on theme: "Mental Fitness and Assessing Positive Mental Health in School Settings: Findings from Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick J. MacDonald, PhD; D. Murnaghan,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Mental Fitness and Assessing Positive Mental Health in School Settings: Findings from Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick J. MacDonald, PhD; D. Murnaghan, PhD; M. Munro-Bernard, MA; C. Laurence, MA Comprehensive School Health Research Group University of Prince Edward Island Charlottetown, PE

2 Acknowledgements Project PI: Donna Murnaghan, RN, PhD New Brunswick Student Wellness Survey: Dr. Bill Morrison, PhD (PI) (Health and Education Research Group, UNB) Project Funders: PEI Dept. of Education and Early Childhood Development PEI Dept. of Health and Wellness (SHAPES-PEI) Health Canada (Youth Smoking Survey) Project Partners: PEI Department of Education and Early Childhood Development Propel Centre for Population Health Impact, University of Waterloo

3 Presentation Objectives To describe mental fitness as a unique measure of positive mental health among youth; To examine predictors of mental fitness and its three components (autonomy, competence and relatedness), particularly in school settings; To discuss the value of mental fitness to youth health assessment in a variety of settings and jurisdictions.

4 What is Mental Fitness? Mental fitness - one’s personal sense of psychological wellness, or social and emotional well-being, fostered in environments and relationships that address three interrelated psychological needs: Autonomy - “I am able to make choices about things that are important to me.” Relatedness - “I feel included, supported and encouraged by others.” Competence - “I have strengths and gifts that are recognized by myself and others.”

5 Background: School Health Action Planning Evaluation System – Prince Edward Island (SHAPES-PEI) A comprehensive system of data collection and knowledge exchange A school based, province-wide, biennial survey of youth health behaviours – ; ; – Students from grades 5-12 – physical activity, healthy eating, mental fitness, and tobacco use modules The SHAPES survey (provincial) and the Youth Smoking Survey (national) Aims: - Establish a local system to measure and monitor youth health in PEI - Provide evidence to support policy and program planning - Inform action at multiple levels, i.e. schools/school boards/government

6 Background: NB Student Wellness Survey A comprehensive system of data collection and knowledge exchange that is highly integrated into the New Brunswick Provincial Wellness Strategy. A school based, province-wide survey of youth health behaviours – ; ; – Students from grades – physical activity, healthy eating, mental fitness, and tobacco use modules Goals: - Monitor the lifestyle behaviours of NB students: healthy eating, physical activity, tobacco-free living, and mental fitness. - Engage educators, students, families and the communities in planning strategic actions using local, district & provincial level data. - Maintain commitment to student wellness.

7 Current Research Relatively new concept and therefore, little is known about mental fitness and its implications for student health. SHAPES-PEI and NB Student Wellness Survey provide opportunities to explore relationships between mental fitness and student health. Better understanding of mental fitness allows for improved policies and interventions.

8 Methods  The mental fitness questionnaire of SHAPES-PEI ( ) and the NB Student Wellness Survey ( )  Data from grade 7-12 students in Prince Edward Island (N=3,318) and New Brunswick (N=7,314)  Four linear regression models were conducted to examine student characteristics associated with mental fitness and its components: autonomy, competence, and relatedness

9 Mental Fitness

10 Autonomy

11 Relatedness

12 Competence

13 Implications of Findings Policy development for student health Program /curriculum development Practice – Inter-professional collaboration among nurses, teachers, school administrators, guidance counsellors, etc. – Development of health and wellness promotion projects – Engagement with parents and broader community

14 Summary of Results  Positive, significant relationships found between positive affect and prosocial behaviours and overall mental fitness  Negative, significant associations found between negative affect, anti-social behaviours and tried smoking and overall mental fitness.  Findings were similar for NB and PEI:  Significant relationships between:  school connectedness, affect, prosocial/anti-social behaviour and mental fitness and each of its 3 components.  sex and grade and mental fitness and each of its 3 components.

15 Conclusions  First study to examine mental fitness in adolescents across two provincial jurisdictions.  Mental fitness and its components associated with a variety of individual and environmental (school-level) factors.  By identifying core parameters for mental fitness, we can improve population health assessments and better address students’ needs through appropriate programs and policies.  Findings from this novel study, although preliminary, point to the need to advance school-based programming to explore the concept of mental fitness more fully, and to include mental fitness assessments and integration of policies and programs that address mental fitness for adolescents.

16 Thank You! Dr. Jo-Ann MacDonald, Co-Principal Investigator Comprehensive School Health Research Group University of Prince Edward Island Charlottetown, PE (902)


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