Published: 03-03-2023 10:10 | Updated: 08-03-2023 10:06

Screening in schools improves psychotic symptoms in adolescents

A new study published in BMC Public Health, shows that screening in schools can improve psychotic symptoms in adolescents. The study is partly produced by researcher at the National centre for suicide research and prevention at Karolinska Institutet.

The study is part of a larger project called SEYLE (aving and Empowering Young Lives in Europe), a randomized controlled study of three interventions (and a control group) designed to improve mental health and prevent suicidal behavior in school-students in Europe. The project finished 2012 and has produced around 50 articles. 

In the recently published article it is reported that the intervention about discovering school adolescents med psychotic symptoms and refer them to the psychiatric care reduced psychotic symptoms compared to the control group. More specifically, a combined school-based screening for psychotic diseases and mental ill-health following a referral to the mental healthcare (the intervention was called “ProfScreen”).

The study also aimed to investigate if the Profscreen-intervention contributed to larger improvements in the reporting of anxiety and depression scores in adolescents with psychotic symptoms compared to adolescents who didn’t have those symptoms. This is important to investigate since a recently published intervention study discovered that those with psychotic symptoms showed slower rates of recovery from anxiety and depression compared to those without psychotic symptoms. The SEYLE-study showed that adolescents with psychotic symptoms reported significantly larger improvements compared to their classmates without psychotic symptoms. Adolescents who reported psychotic symptoms also reported larger depression and anxiety symptoms at baseline, compared to those who didn’t report psychotic symptoms. These results from the SEYLE project imply that studies aiming to improve psychotic symptoms can also be valuable to improve mental well-being in adolescents.

The SEYLE project was conducted in 11 European countries. Though, only one country, Ireland, included a question about psychotic symptoms in their questionnaire. The result from this article is therefore solely based on Ireland. Further research is needed to confirm the results from the SEYLE study in Ireland, that school based screening efforts with a referral to the mental healthcare are effective to reduced psychotic symptoms in adolescents.


Investigating the effectiveness of three school based interventions for preventing psychotic experiences over a year period - a secondary data analysis study of a randomized control trial.
Staines L, Healy C, Corcoran P, Keeley H, Coughlan H, McMahon E, Cotter P, Cotter D, Kelleher I, Wasserman C, Brunner R, Kaess M, Sarchiapone M, Hoven CW, Carli V, Wasserman D, Cannon M
BMC Public Health 2023 Feb;23(1):219