At a glance
My Health Diary is a school-based and teacher-led program focused on the active engagement of pupils and designed to enhance their subjective well-being and health by strengthening their emotional and social skills and by improving the parent-child relationship. The programme is based on a cascade training, so that health professionals specifically trained by the programme team, train teachers and organise courses for parents. It is composed of five standardised interactive lessons concerning common psychosocial and health issues in adolescence, and two narrative booklets addressed to both students and their parents.
Overview of results from the European studies
The effectiveness of the programme was evaluated by two separate trials published in two papers. The first trial (Allara 2019), although non randomised, is methodologically sound, but had some negative findings (reductions in subjective wellbeing) with outcomes in favour of the control group. This increased perception of psychosomatic complaints might be due to an increased emotional competence. However, the evaluation study concludes that “the programme in its present form should not be disseminated due to the possibility of adverse unintended effects”.
In a second randomized controlled trial (Ribaglietti et al., 2021), the program was not found to have significant effects on the primary outcome variables and most of the secondary variables. However, for the mediators, the association was stronger for the girls in the intervention group, and there was a statistically significant difference in the empathic skills shown by girls, who reported higher levels than boys.
Countries where evaluated
Description of programme
My Health Diary program aims to enhance the empathic and social abilities of pre-adolescents and their level of satisfaction with the school experience. This enhancement could increase their perception of psychological well-being and health status; and these aspects are intended to achieve an increase in pro-social behavior and academic success as well as a decrease of physical and verbal aggression, cigarette smoking, alcohol use, unhealthy eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle.
The rationale of My Health Diary is that providing students with the social and emotional skills to fulfill their potential and deal with common developmental tasks of adolescence (e.g.,
onset of puberty, identity development, increased responsibilities and academic demands) would result in improved well-being and health.
The part of the programme directly targeted at pre-adolescents consists in five standardised units based on interactive activities: My emotions; Beyond stereotypes; Becoming men & women; Managing my emotions; Others’ emotions. Each unit lasts between two to four hours, delivered by the teachers. After the first evaluation, two units were reviewed in order to focus more on the ability to manage emotions, while specific references to health-risk behaviors were removed. Most of the trained teachers (n = 130) implemented the programme during the second year of the Italian middle school to
students aged 12–13.