NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use, National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW.
This curriculum-based online program is designed to be administered by teachers within classrooms. The program involves 6 × 45-minute lessons, each with two components:
- A 15-minute computer-based component
- Teacher delivered classroom activities.
No specialist teacher training is required. Booster sessions are also available. This module is ideally delivered 6 months to 1 year after the Climate Schools: Alcohol Module.
The Climate Schools: Alcohol and Cannabis Module was developed for 13-14 year olds and aims to prevent and reduce alcohol and cannabis use and related harms. Designed to be implemented within the school health curriculum, Climate Schools is based on a social influence approach to prevention and uses cartoon storylines to engage and maintain student interest and involvement.
Students follow six episodes of an online cartoon-based drama about teenagers and their experiences. Through the storyline, students learn about short and long term consequences of alcohol use, cannabis and the law, acute and chronic harms associated with cannabis use, cannabis and mental health, identifying problematic use in friends and where to seek help. Each episode ends with a short quiz to assess and consolidate learning. The class and homework activities are designed to reinforce the material taught in the cartoon and encourage students to apply the preventative messages and skills. Feedback indicates that teachers and students enjoy the program, and implementation within the classroom environment is highly feasible.
Training and Costs
There are costs associated with the Climate Schools programs. Refer to the website for registration and subscription details.
- Increases alcohol and cannabis knowledge
- Reduces alcohol consumption
- Reduces frequency of binge drinking
- Reduces frequency of cannabis use
- Increases resistance to peer pressure
- Reduces psychological distress
- Reduces truancy
Four recently published studies, two of which are randomised control trials, support the benefits of the Climate Schools: Alcohol & Cannabis Module:
Champion, K. E., Newton, N. C., Stapinski, L., Slade, T., Barrett, E. L., & Teesson, M. (2016). A cross-validation trial of an Internet-based prevention program for alcohol and cannabis: Preliminary results from a cluster randomised controlled trial. Australian and New Zealand journal of psychiatry, 50, 54-73.
Newton, N. C., Andrews, G., Teesson, M. and Champion, K. (2014). Universal internet-based prevention for alcohol and cannabis use reduces truancy, psychological distress and moral disengagement: a cluster randomised controlled trial. Preventive Medicine, 65, 109-115.
Newton, N. C., Teesson, M., Vogl, L. E., Andrews, G. (2012). Internet-based prevention for alcohol and cannabis use: final results of the Climate Schools course, Addiction, 105, 749-759.
Newton, N. C., Vogl, L. E., Teesson, M., & Andrews, G. (2011). Developing the Climate Schools: Alcohol and Cannabis Module: A Harm-Minimization, Universal Drug Prevention Program Facilitated by the Internet. Substance Use and Misuse, 46, 1654-1663.
The Climate Schools programs were recognised at the 2014 Society of Mental Health Research conference with the Australian Rotary Health Knowledge Dissemination award.
The Climate Schools Alcohol and Cannabis module is included in SAMSHA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (USA).