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Schools (ME) Program – Endometriosis and Menstrual Health (ME)

Why not at your school too?

In August 2017, the Pelvic Pain Foundation of Australia funded and piloted the established New Zealand based Menstrual Education (ME) Schools Program in South Australia.

The ME program educates teens from Years 9 and 10 regarding normal menstrual symptoms, how to recognise when symptoms are abnormal, which symptoms are suggestive of Endometriosis, and where to obtain assistance should their menstrual symptoms be distressing.

The ME program has been developed by Endometriosis New Zealand and has been offered in New Zealand schools for 20 years. It is fully evaluated; with impressive results published in peer-reviewed medical journals demonstrating it’s effectiveness in raising community awareness of Endometriosis, and reducing the diagnostic delay so distressing to young women with pain.

We’d like to see ME available to every Australian student in every school. Why not? An extension of the program to larger groups in Australia would include the training of local Australian educators.

You can click on the link below to see a description of the NZ program piloted in 2017.

2017 Pilot Program Description Requires Adobe Reader

What’s the program about?

The ME program is a fun, health-based program, lasting one hour delivered by fully trained educators, and highly regarded by students and teachers throughout New Zealand. It incorporates specifically developed resources for use during the session and resources for girls with pain to take home. The 60-minute session is followed by an opportunity for individual students, or teachers, with specific or personal concerns to discuss these with the ME program educator individually.
The Pilot Program in South Australia in 2017 has demonstrated that the ME Program fits equally well in the Australian School System.

Pilot Program Results – What did we find?

522 Students and 10 teachers, across 10 South Australian Schools, received the program and completed evaluation forms.

73% of students reported distressing symptoms with periods. These included pain, nausea, vomiting, heavy bleeding, bowel problems, bladder problems, or tiredness.
• 4% of students missed school, sports or social activities with every period.
• 38% of students missed school, sports or social activities with some periods.
• Only 30% student, had never missed school, sport or social activities with periods.

Of those with distressing symptoms:
• 14% had never sought help
• 42% felt that they had no or little information about where to seek help.

Program Outcomes – Students

Student knowledge of menstrual symptoms and missing school:

• Pre-education, 96% students felt it is normal to feel distressed with periods
• Post-education, 85% students correctly identified that it is abnormal to feel distressed by their period.

• Pre-education, 48% of students thought it was normal to miss schools, sports or social activities with periods
• Post-education, only 5% of students felt that it was normal to miss schools, sports or social activities with periods

Knowledge of Endometriosis:

• Pre-education, 59% of students had no information on endometriosis
• Post-education, 96% of students felt they had medium to high levels of information on endometriosis

Program Outcomes – Teachers

100% of teachers requested that the ME program return to their school in 2018
The ME program was effective at raising the knowledge of teachers, who felt poorly prepared for assisting girls with severe menstrual symptoms prior to attending the ME program. The change in teacher confidence advising on distressing menstrual symptoms is shown below:

Teacher’s confidence managing severe menstrual symptoms in students

• Pre-education, 10% teachers felt highly confident advising students on menstrual symptoms
• Post-education, 60% of teachers felt highly confident advising students on menstrual symptoms

What did Teachers say about the Program?

Be great to lock in to Year 9 or 10 girls each year
Very informative. Fantastic presentation. Clear to read slides. Good use of pictures. Great use of humour
Excellent presentation with a clear powerpoint. Delivered professionally and was engaging
Would like to see boys educated on menstrual health to increase their understanding and empathy for females. Excellent
Hope you’ll be back next year

ME Schools Program Summary Requires Adobe Reader

Reference:

Deborah Bush, Emily Brick, Michael C East and Neil Johnson
Endometriosis education in schools: A New Zealand model examining the impact of an education program in schools on early recognition of symptoms suggesting endometriosis
Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol 2017; 57: 452–457