InterVenture is a research project that evaluates different psycho-social approaches in school settings to better prevent substance abuse and mental health problems among youth. The research project also involves a parent-training intervention, delivered by a multidisciplinary teams of professionals, aimed at improving parental abilities in the management of child behaviour problems, and a collaborative care for youth with persistant mental health or/and substance abuse problems.
In collaboration with Greater Montreal area high schools and Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Centre, and funded by The Royal Bank of Canada, InterVenture trial is testing a three-pronged intervention model. It is a research project consisting of a collaborative approach integrating novel evidence-based interventions and existing services while focusing on targeted prevention for the youth most at risk, to better address youth mental health and substance abuse problems. One of the essential components of this approach is a meaningful engagement of youth, families, schools, community organizations and other institutions promoting youth well-being. Its model is comprised by the following interventions:
(1) PRE-VENTURE : Brief, coping skills interventions targeting personality risk factors for adolescent substance misuse: negative thinking, anxiety sensitivity, impulsivity and sensation seeking. Three randomized trials have shown that the program is effective in delaying the onset of mental health and conduct problems and reducing substance use among secondary school students.
(2) ÉQUIPE (“Étude québécoise de l’intervention parentale chez les enfants avec des problèmes de comportement”): a parent training program for parents of youth with behavioural problems. Three controlled evaluation studies have shown that the program can improve parenting skills, reduce parental stress and child behavioural problems.
(3) INTER-ACTION : A timely delivery of low-and high-intensity interventions to youth with mental health or substance use problems through a school-based screening and referral to a local integrated collaborative care team. By providing school with screening tools and a care navigator, Inter-Action links students in needs to mental health service providers that includes: child and adolescent psychiatrist, psychologist, specialized educator, primary health care providers, social worker, peer support workers and a school councillor. This phase will allow to implement and assess a collaborative approach that has a significant potential to improve access to youth mental health service.
This research project aims to test the impact of adding screening and collaborative mental health teams to the PreVenture programme. This will help to evaluate different psycho-social approaches in school settings that would better prevent substance abuse and mental health problems in youth. The potential effects of the three intervention modalities are: (i) Prevention or delay of the onset of substance use, mental health and conduct problems; (ii) Reduction of the severity of mental health, conduct and substance use problems; (iii) Quality of life improvement and high psychosocial functioning for students with early signs of mental health concerns.
This study is an exploratory randomized controlled trial (a five-year school-based trial) to test the feasibility of the InterVenture model relative to the school-based PreVenture program alone. Initial follow-up assessments will be completed by students and parents will be involved. Most measures at the initial assessment (grade 7) and follow-up assessments will be conducted in schools at 12-months intervals for 4 years. This follow-up period will allow changes to be observed in mental health status and substance use among students and the impact of interventions in adolescence, a period of increased vulnerability during which these problems appear.
The literature shows that peer support can be an effective complement to the standard services offered by health professionals. In the field of mental health and addiction prevention, studies have shown that peer support is beneficial for those facing mental health and substance use problems as it strengthens the social and emotional support necessary for their recovery. In this perspective, youth aged 16-20 years have been recruited as young mentors. They have created a training model that will be offered to other young people so that they provide support to InterVenture participants in need of peer support.