Universal and selective interventions to promote good mental health in young people: Systematic review and meta-analysis

Gonzalo Salazar de Pablo, Andrea De Micheli, Dorien H. Nieman, Christoph U. Correll, Lars Vedel Kessing, Andrea Pfennig, Andreas Bechdolf, Stefan Borgwardt, Celso Arango, Therese van Amelsvoort, Eduard Vieta, Marco Solmi, Dominic Oliver, Ana Catalan, Valeria Verdino, Lucia Di Maggio, Ilaria Bonoldi, Julio Vaquerizo-Serrano, Ottone Baccaredda Boy, Umberto ProvenzaniFrancesca Ruzzi, Federica Calorio, Guido Nosari, Benedetto Di Marco, Irene Famularo, Silvia Molteni, Eleonora Filosi, Martina Mensi, Umberto Balottin, Pierluigi Politi, Jae Il Shin, Paolo Fusar-Poli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Promotion of good mental health in young people is important. Our aim was to evaluate the consistency and magnitude of the efficacy of universal/selective interventions to promote good mental health. A systematic PRISMA/RIGHT-compliant meta-analysis (PROSPERO: CRD42018088708) search of Web of Science until 04/31/2019 identified original studies comparing the efficacy of universal/selective interventions for good mental health vs a control group, in samples with a mean age <35 years. Meta-analytical random-effects model, heterogeneity statistics, assessment of publication bias, study quality and sensitivity analyses investigated the efficacy (Hedges’ g=effect size, ES) of universal/selective interventions to promote 14 good mental health outcomes defined a-priori. 276 studies were included (total participants: 159,508, 79,142 interventions and 80,366 controls), mean age=15.0 (SD=7.4); female=56.0%. There was a significant overall improvement in 10/13 good mental health outcome categories that could be meta-analysed: compared to controls, interventions significantly improved (in descending order of magnitude) mental health literacy (ES=0.685, p<0.001), emotions (ES=0.541, p<0.001), self-perceptions and values (ES=0.49, p<0.001), quality of life (ES=0.457, p=0.001), cognitive skills (ES=0.428, p<0.001), social skills (ES=0.371, p<0.001), physical health (ES=0.285, p<0.001), sexual health (ES=0.257, p=0.017), academic/occupational performance (ES=0.211, p<0.001) and attitude towards mental disorders (ES=0.177, p=0.006). Psychoeducation was the most effective intervention for promoting mental health literacy (ES=0.774, p<0.001) and cognitive skills (ES=1.153, p=0.03). Physical therapy, exercise and relaxation were more effective than psychoeducation and psychotherapy for promoting physical health (ES=0.498, p<0.001). In conclusion, several universal/selective interventions can be effective to promote good mental health in young people. Future research should consolidate and extend these findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-39
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Neuropsychopharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Network Board. Dr Salazar de Pablo is supported by the Alicia Koplowitz Foundation. Dr Fusar-Poli is supported by the PSYSCAN project through the European Commission.

Funding Information:
Dr. Correll has been a consultant and/or advisor to or has received honoraria from: Alkermes, Allergan, Angelini, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Gedeon Richter, Gerson Lehrman Group, Indivior, IntraCellular Therapies, Janssen/J&J, LB Pharma, Lundbeck, MedAvante-ProPhase, Medscape, Merck, Neurocrine, Noven, Otsuka, Pfizer, Recordati, Rovi, Servier, Sumitomo Dainippon, Sunovion, Supernus, Takeda, and Teva. He has provided expert testimony for Bristol-Myers Squibb, Janssen, and Otsuka. He served on a Data Safety Monitoring Board for Boehringer-Ingelheim, Lundbeck, Rovi, Supernus, and Teva. He received royalties from UpToDate and grant support from Janssen and Takeda. He is also a stock option holder of LB Pharma. Dr. Kessing has been a consultant to or has received honoraria or grants from Lundbeck. Dr. Arango has been a consultant to or has received honoraria or grants from Acadia, Angelini, Gedeon Richter, Janssen Cilag, Lundbeck, Otsuka, Roche, Sage, Servier, Shire, Schering Plough, Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma, Sunovion and Takeda. Dr. Bechdolf has been a consultant and/or advisor to or has received honoraria or grants from: Janssen/J&J, LB Pharma, Lundbeck, Otsuka, Pfizer and Recordati. Dr Catalan has received personal fees from Janssen. Dr. Vieta has received grants and served as consultant, advisor or CME speaker for the following entities: Abbott, Allergan, Angelini, Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma, Janssen, Lundbeck, Novartis, Otsuka, Richter, Sage, Sanofi-Aventis, and Takeda. Dr Fusar-Poli has received grants from Lundbeck and personal fees from Menarini, Lundbeck and Angelini. No other disclosures were reported.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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