Healthy, wealthy and wise: The long-term effectiveness of an online universal program to prevent substance use and mental health problems among Australian youth

  • Research program: Prevention and early intervention
  • Project status: Current
  • Start date: January 2018
  • Expected end date: December 2023
  • Completion date:
  • Funded by: NHMRC
  • Lead organisation: University of Sydney

Substance use and mental disorders are the leading causes of burden of disease in young people globally. The peak of this disability occurs in those aged 15-24 years. Critically, substance use disorders, depression and anxiety frequently co-occur, share common risk factors, and interact. Although school-based prevention programs exist, none target substance use, anxiety and depression together. Existing prevention programs have a very limited evidence base, and few evaluations have been conducted beyond three years. It is therefore unclear whether prevention effects are sustained during the critical transition period from adolescence into young adulthood, when adult vocational and social roles are established, and rates of substance use and mental health problems are highest. A young persons ability to cope with these unique challenges can have profound effects on their subsequent life-course, their communities and Australia’s economic future.

This Study brings together an outstanding team of influential comorbidity research and prevention leaders, health economists, and high performing early career researchers from eminent institutions across Australia. The study represents a unique opportunity to build on the NHMRC funded CLIMATE Schools Combined (CSC) study (APP1047291), a world-first randomised controlled trial of a combined, internet delivered school-based approach to preventing substance use, anxiety and depression, delivered to one of the largest adolescent cohorts in Australia. Having successfully implemented the trial and followed these students for 3 years, this study has extended follow-up of school into early adulthood.

Name & Contact Details Role Research Program Location
Placeholder image

Associate Professor Nyanda McBride
Tel: 61 (0)8 9266 1600
View profile

Chief Investigator

Prevention and early intervention


Placeholder image

Professor Steve Allsop
Tel: 61 (0)8 9266 1606
View profile

Chief Investigator

Alcohol policy and strategies


  • Chief Investigator: Maree Teesson, University of Sydney
  • Chief Investigator: Nicola Newton, University of Sydney
  • Chief Investigator: Timothy Slade, University of Sydney
  • Chief Investigator: Catherine Chapman, University of Sydney
  • Chief Investigator: Louise Mewton, University of Sydney
  • Chief Investigator: Leanne Hides, University of Queensland
  • Chief Investigator: Mary Chatterton, Deakin University
  • Chief Investigator: Louise Birrell, University of Sydney

This project aligns with the following Sustainable Development Goals and Targets:

Andrews, J., Birrell, L., Chapman, C., Teesson, M., Newton, N., C., Allsop, S., McBride, N., Hides, L., Andrews, G., Olsen, N., Mewton, L. and Slade, T. (2023). Evaluating the effectiveness of a universal eHealth school-based prevention program for depression and anxiety, and the moderating role of friendship network characteristics. Psychological Medicine, 53, (11), pp. 5042 - 5051. doi:10.1017/S0033291722002033 [RJ1903] View web page

Champion, K., E., Chapman, C., Gardner, L., A., Sunderland, M., Newton, N., C., Smout, S., Thornton, L., Hides, L., McBride, N., Allsop, S., Mills, K., Kay-Lambkin, F., J., Teesson, M., Slade, T. and Health4Life Team, _. (2022). Lifestyle risks for chronic disease among Australian adolescents: a cross-sectional survey. Medical Journal of Australia, 216, (3), pp. 156-157. doi:10.5694/mja2.51333 [RJ1735] View web page

Gardner, L., A., Champion, K., E., Teesson, M., Newton, N., C., Kay-Lambkin, F., J., Chapman, C., Thornton, L., Slade, T., Mills, K., Sunderland, M., Allsop, S., Hides, L., McBride, N., Bauer, J., Parmenter, B., J., Spring, B. and Lubbans, D., R. (2021). The Health4LIfe Initiative: An eHealth intervention targeting multiple lifestyle risk behaviours among Australian adolescents. International Journal of Epidemiology, 50, (1), pp. 177. doi:10.1093/ije/dyab168.212 [RJ1874] View web page

Teesson, M., Newton, N., C., Slade, T., Chapman, C., Birrell, L., Mewton, L., Mather, M., Hides, L., McBride, N., Allsop, S. and Andrews, G. (2020). Combined prevention for substance use, depression and anxiety in adolescence: A cluster-randomised controlled trial for a digital online intervention. The Lancet Digital Health, 2, (2), pp. e74-e84. doi:10.1016/S2589-7500(19)30213-4 [RJ1559] View web page