Priority Areas for Future Research and Advocacy Identified by Webinar Breakout Groups:
- Increase focus on the sub-groups most at risk of poor mental health, e.g. homeless young people, young people from low socio-economic groups, young people exposed to trauma, and LGBTQI adolescents.
- Widely implement school programs including counseling for adolescents and guidance teacher training as a standard across schools.
- Implement family level programs for parents to assist their relationships and communication with their children and help build trusting relationships and better communication skills.
Policy and programs
- Ensure that policymakers and health professionals understand adolescents’ unique needs and challenges and the need for services and programs to respond to these.
- Invest in data generation to understand the burden of mental ill health among this population and involve adolescents meaningfully in generating solutions to the issues they experience.
- Consider the developmental stages of adolescents in adolescent mental health programming both in humanitarian and general settings, and avoid generalization.
- Share and leverage the research showing the benefit of investing in adolescents’ mental health with national stakeholders.
- Advocate for services to be preventative as well as responsive, and to be situated where young people are, both physically e.g. schools, youth clubs, and virtually e.g. social media.
- Advocacy and research should understand and utilize adolescents’ language related to mental health – move away from discussing mental health or mental ill health only in medical terms, and increase use of accessible language.
- Advocate for context-specific and gender-tailored interventions, particularly to differentiate between gender roles, perceptions, and challenges.
- Advocate for programs that help young people navigate sexual and reproductive health, their health and behaviors, and build skill sets.
More research on school-based interventions with teachers, focusing on validating and understanding the effectiveness of mechanisms for early prevention.
- Need for more robust evaluations of mental health programs and outcomes to build the evidence base.
- Increase understanding of how poor mental health manifests in the way young people express themselves.
- Recognize gender as a key frame for understanding mental health and build this into all mental health research.