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Lancet Publication


The article ‘An Arts-Literacy Intervention for Adolescent Depression and Anxiety Symptoms: Outcomes of a Randomized Controlled Trial of Pre-Texts with Kenyan Adolescents’ is now available in The Lancet.. Authored by Tom L. Osborn, David M. Ndetei, Pier Luigi Sacco, Victoria Mutiso, and Doris Sommer, it presents the outcomes of a randomized controlled trial of Pre-Texts with Kenyan adolescents.

In regions where mental health issues among youth are prevalent and further compounded by stigma and limited access to traditional treatments, the demand for scalable, accessible, and stigma-free interventions is urgent. In response to this need, the study introduces Pre-Texts, an arts-literacy intervention targeting adolescent depression and anxiety in Kenya.

The findings suggest that a brief arts-literacy intervention, involving challenging school material in a group setting as an afterschool program, can effectively reduce depression and anxiety symptoms among adolescents in Sub-Saharan Africa. The study emphasizes the potential of Pre-Texts in addressing mental health challenges in resource-limited settings.

Conducted as a universal Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT), the study included 235 students from Kenyan high schools, ages 13–19. Daily 1-hour Pre-Texts sessions occurred for a week in groups of 6–12 youths, facilitated by trained lay-providers. The study was pre-registered at the Pan African Clinical Trials Registry.

While promising, the researchers highlight the need for future replication trials with larger sample sizes and extended follow-ups to thoroughly assess the strength and sustainability of the observed effects.

Funding and Collaborating Institutions:

The study received financial support from grants provided by the Mind, Brain, and Behavior (MBB) Initiative at Harvard University and the Center for African Studies at Harvard University. The commitment to advancing mental health initiatives was further strengthened by collaboration with several institutions:

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