BACKGROUND: Although school climate is linked with youth educational, socioemotional, behavioral, and health outcomes, there has been limited research on the association between school climate and mental health education efforts. We explored whether school climate was associated with students' depression literacy and mental health stigma beliefs. METHODS: Data were combined from 2 studies: the Maryland Safe Supportive Schools Project and a randomized controlled trial of the Adolescent Depression Awareness Program. Five high schools participated in both studies, allowing examination of depression literacy and stigma measures from 500 9th and 10th graders. Multilevel models examined the relationship between school-level school climate characteristics and student-level depression literacy and mental health stigma scores. RESULTS: Overall school climate was positively associated with depression literacy (odds ratio [OR] = 2.78, p <.001) and negatively associated with stigma (Est. = −3.822, p =.001). Subscales of engagement (OR = 5.30, p <.001) and environment were positively associated with depression literacy (OR = 2.01, p <.001) and negatively associated with stigma (Est. = −6.610, p <.001), (Est. = −2.742, p <.001). CONCLUSIONS: Positive school climate was associated with greater odds of depression literacy and endorsement of fewer stigmatizing beliefs among students. Our findings raise awareness regarding aspects of the school environment that may facilitate or inhibit students' recognition of depression and subsequent treatment-seeking.
- adolescent depression
- depression literacy
- school climate
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health