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By Vijay Kumar Malesu May 3 2024 Reviewed by Lily Ramsey, LLM

In a recent study published in The Lancet Digital Health, a group of researchers assessed the long-term effectiveness of four school-based, online interventions for preventing mental health and substance use disorders in adolescents, measured at a 72-month follow-up.

Study:  Effectiveness of a universal, school-based, online programme for the prevention of anxiety, depression, and substance misuse among adolescents in Australia: 72-month outcomes from a cluster-randomised controlled trial . Image Credit: Matej Kastelic/Shutterstock.com Background 

Mental health and substance use disorders cost over the United States (US)$2.4 trillion globally and are expected to double by 2030. Trends show increasing mental health issues among youth, aggravated by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Although alcohol initiation is delayed in younger adolescents worldwide, consumption increases significantly between ages 15 and 18.

Further research is needed to determine prevention efforts' long-term sustainability and to adapt interventions to evolving adolescent and societal needs. About the study 

The present study tracked 6,386 adolescents from a four-arm, multicentre, cluster-randomized trial across 71 schools in New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia, which started between September 2013 and December 2016.

Schools were randomly assigned to one of four interventions: Climate Schools Combined (CSC), Climate Schools Substance Use (CSSU) alone, Climate Schools Mental Health (CSMH) alone, or standard health education. With their consent, participants were re-contacted for follow-up at 60 and 72 months.

The interventions involved 18 classroom sessions employing social learning and cognitive behavioral therapy principles, focusing on mental health and substance use. CSSU and CSMH interventions focused specifically on substance use and mental health, respectively, with a reduced number of targeted lessons.

Due to high attrition, the 84-month follow-up was canceled, focusing resources on earlier assessments. Follow-up included web-based surveys, with retention efforts including financial incentives and multiple communication strategies. Related StoriesStudy identifies key priorities for building mental health-friendly cities for young peopleNew study sheds light on the relationship between race and mental health stigma in college studentsChatbots for mental health pose new challenges for US regulatory framework

Primary outcomes assessed were alcohol and cannabis use and symptoms of anxiety and depression, using validated self-report measures.

Analysis utilized multilevel mixed-effect regression models, accounting for the clustered nature of the data, and analyzed by intention to treat to provide insights into the long-term efficacy of these interventions. Study results 

Between September 2013 and December 2016, the study enrolled 6,386 students from 71 schools spanning New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia. Participants were allocated to four groups: 1,556 to standard education, 1,739 to CSSU, 1,594 to CSMH, and 1,497 to CSC.

The study followed up with these participants for up to 72 months post-baseline, focusing on those who had not declined further contact at the 30-month follow-up. Intention-to-treat analysis included all original participants, with a mean age of 13.5 years at baseline, over half of whom were female.

The follow-up assessments at 60 and 72 months revealed varied participation rates across the groups, with the CSC group showing substantial retention. The study observed no adverse events.

In terms of alcohol consumption, while weekly drinking and heavy episodic drinking increased over time among the control group, these increases were significantly slower in the CSC group.

However, there were no notable differences in the probability of weekly drinking or heavy episodic drinking between the CSC group and other groups at the 72-month follow-up.

Similarly, monthly cannabis use increased in the control group but changes over time were not significantly different among the intervention groups.

Mental health outcomes, including depression and anxiety, showed slight increases over time in the control group, with minimal evidence of significant changes between groups throughout the follow-up period.

Sensitivity analyses adjusted for baseline covariates related to outcomes and attrition indicated similar trends, though with increased uncertainty in effect estimates.  Conclusions 

To summarize, the study assessed the effectiveness of a school-based prevention program targeting mental health and substance use disorders over 72 months among middle school students. It found that the CSC intervention significantly slowed the increase in weekly drinking and heavy episodic drinking.

However, these findings are tempered by baseline differences between the CSC and control groups, which could affect the results.

Sensitivity analyses further diminished the certainty of these outcomes, showing minimal long-term differences between groups for alcohol use disorder, cannabis use, and mental health symptoms.

The study suggests that while such programs can initially mitigate certain behaviors, their long-term effectiveness may require ongoing intervention. Journal reference:

Maree Teesson, Louise Birrell, Tim Slade, et al. (2024) Effectiveness of a universal, school-based, online programme for the prevention of anxiety, depression, and substance misuse among adolescents in Australia: 72-month outcomes from a cluster-randomised controlled trial, The Lancet Digital Health. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/S2589-7500(24)00046-3.https://www.thelancet.com/journals/landig/article/PIIS2589-7500(24)00046-3/fulltext 

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Papua New Guinea: More than 2,000 people buried alive in landslide – as ‘major destruction’ hampers rescue efforts

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Papua New Guinea: More than 2,000 people buried alive in landslide - as 'major destruction' hampers rescue efforts

More than 2,000 people have been buried by a massive landslide in northern Papua New Guinea, the country’s disaster agency has said.

The landslide levelled the mountainous Kaokalam village in Enga Province – about 370 miles (600km) northwest of the capital Port Moresby.

It hit the Pacific nation at around 3am local time on Friday (6pm on Thursday UK time), and the United Nations had earlier said it estimated 670 people had been killed. Local officials had initially put the number of dead at 100 or more.

People search through a landslide in Yambali village. Pic: Kafuri Yaro/UNDP Papua New Guinea via AP
Image:
People search through a landslide in Yambali village. Pic: Kafuri Yaro/UNDP Papua New Guinea via AP

The Papua New Guinea national disaster centre said the landslide had buried more than 2,000 people.

“The landslide buried more than 2,000 people alive and caused major destruction to buildings, food gardens and caused major impact on the economic lifeline of the country,” an official from the national disaster centre said in a letter to the United Nations.

Earlier, Serhan Aktoprak, head of the United Nations’ International Organisation for Migration mission on the island nation, said the figure of 670 deaths was based on calculations by local officials that more than 150 homes had been buried. The previous estimate was 60 homes.

“They are estimating that more than 670 people [are] under the soil at the moment,” he said.

More than 4,000 people were likely impacted by the disaster, humanitarian group CARE Australia said earlier.

It said the area was “a place of refuge for those displaced by [nearby] conflicts”.

Pic: New Porgera Limited/Reuters
Image:
Pic: New Porgera Limited/Reuters

Pic: New Porgera Limited/Reuters
Image:
Pic: New Porgera Limited/Reuters

About six villages were affected by the landslide in the province’s Mulitaka region, according to Australia‘s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Three bodies were pulled from an area where 50 to 60 homes were destroyed. Six people, including a child, were pulled from the rubble alive, the UN’s Papua New Guinea office said.

But hopes of finding more survivors were diminishing.

Pic: AP
Villagers use heavy machinery to search through a landslide in Yambali in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, Sunday, May 26, 2024. The International Organization for Migration feared Sunday the death toll from a massive landslide is much worse than what authorities initially estimated. (Mohamud Omer/International Organization for Migration via AP)
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Villagers use heavy machinery to search through the landslide. Pic: AP

Yambali was among the villages affected. Pic: Mohamud Omer/International Organisation for Migration via AP
Image:
Yambali was among the villages affected. Pic: Mohamud Omer/International Organisation for Migration via AP

The landslide left debris up to eight metres deep across 200 sq km (77 sq miles), cutting off road access, which was making relief efforts difficult. Helicopters were the only way to reach the area.

Survivors searched through tonnes of earth and rubble by hand looking for missing relatives while a first emergency convoy delivered food, water and other provisions on Saturday.

However, Mr Aktoprak added: “Hopes to take the people out alive from the rubble have diminished now.”

In February, at least 26 men were killed in Enga Province in an ambush amid tribal violence that prompted Prime Minister James Marape to give arrest powers to the country’s military.

Mr Marape has said disaster officials, the defence force and the department of works and highways were assisting with relief and recovery efforts.

View of the damage after a landslide in Maip Mulitaka, Enga province, Papua New Guinea May 24, 2024 in this obtained image. Emmanuel Eralia via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.?
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A damaged house after the landslide. Pic: Reuters

People carry bags in the aftermath of a landslide in Enga Province, Papua New Guinea, May 24, 2024, in this still image obtained from a video. Andrew Ruing/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. MANDATORY CREDIT
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Locals carry their belongings away from the scene of the landslide. Pic: Reuters

Papua New Guinea, with a population of around 10 million, is a diverse, developing nation of mostly subsistence farmers with 800 languages. There are few roads outside the larger cities.

It is located on the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, the arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where much of the world’s earthquake and volcanic activity occurs.

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In March, the country was hit by a 6.9-magnitude earthquake.

The US and Australia are building closer defence ties with the strategically important nation, while China is also seeking closer security and economic ties.

US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said their governments stood ready to help respond to the landslide.

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Passengers and crew injured after turbulence on Qatar Airways flight to Dublin

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Passengers and crew injured after turbulence on Qatar Airways flight to Dublin

Eight people have been taken to hospital due to turbulence on a flight to Dublin.

Dublin Airport said six passengers and six crew members on a Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Dublin were hurt after experiencing turbulence over Turkey.

In a later statement, the airport said all passengers were assessed for injury before getting off the plane and eight were taken to hospital.

Graeme McQueen, a spokesman for DAA, the operator of Dublin Airport, told Sky News the aircraft was met by emergency services upon landing shortly before 1pm on Sunday.

The scene at Dublin Airport

Qatar Airways described the injuries sustained by passengers and crew as “minor”.

It said: “[They] are now receiving medical attention… The safety and security of our passengers and crew are our top priority.”

An internal investigation into what happened has now been launched.

Read more:
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Earlier this week, in a separate incident, a British man died on a Singapore Airlines flight after extreme turbulence on a Heathrow-Singapore journey.

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Singapore Airlines passenger Josh Silverstone describes ordeal

Turbulence is defined as a sudden change in airflow and wind speed.

It can often be associated with storm clouds, which are usually well forecast and monitored, allowing planes to fly around them, Sky News weather producer Jo Robinson said.

Clear-air turbulence (CAT) is much more dangerous as there are no visual signs, such as clouds.

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This invisible vertical air movement usually occurs at and above 15,000ft and is mostly linked to the jet stream.

It is unclear what type of turbulence the Qatar Airways flight went through.

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Four girls stabbed at cinema in Massachusetts

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Four girls stabbed at cinema in Massachusetts

Four girls aged between nine and 17 were stabbed in an “unprovoked” attack at a cinema in Massachusetts, US police have said.

A 21-year-old woman and a 29-year-old man were also found stabbed in a McDonald’s restaurant in an incident that may be connected, according to officers.

A man, whose identity has not been released, was taken into custody following a vehicle chase that ended in a crash in Sandwich, Cape Cod.

Police said a man came into the AMC Braintree 10 complex, south of Boston, at about 6pm local time on Saturday and entered one of the movie theatres without paying.

“Without saying anything and without any warning, he suddenly attacked the four young females,” the Braintree police department said in a statement.

“The attack appeared to be unprovoked. After the attack, the man ran out and left in a vehicle.”

The girls sustained non-life-threatening injuries and were taken to hospitals in Boston for treatment.

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The suspect’s vehicle – what appeared to be a black SUV – and number plate was seen on camera, police said.

A vehicle matching the description of the suspect’s vehicle was later seen in Plymouth, about 27 miles south of Braintree.

Police said it had left a McDonald’s restaurant, where a 21-year-old woman and a 29-year-old man were found stabbed and both were taken to hospitals with injuries.

Police found the vehicle another 20 miles south, in Sandwich, and attempted to pull it over, but it didn’t stop and later crashed.

The driver was taken into custody shortly afterward and was being treated at a hospital.

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