10 October 2018
Adopting a preventative approach to mental health problems is an effective strategy or maximising the wellbeing of all young people.
That is the conclusion of a statement issued for World Mental Health Day by Margarida Gaspar de Matos, convener of the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations Board of Prevention and Promotion, and BPS member and deputy convener Tony Wainwright.
The theme of World Mental Health Day 2018 is “Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World,” and Margarida Gaspar de Matos says:
The EFPA Board of Promotion and Prevention stresses the urgent need to develop public policies that are based on firm evidence developed by researchers, including psychologists, from the field of prevention science and it urges the member associations of EFPA to take action in their own countries to support this.
These public policies need to be ‘adolescent friendly’ and aim to promote their personal and social competence, their social engagement and their life opportunities, so as to build strong support peer networks for young people.
Psychologists have a key role in this field drawing on psychological science and practice.
The statement gives examples of successful programmes that have boosted adolescent mental health in Denmark and Portugal.
The Danish programme is the Fairstart Foundation, which provides online training for caregivers of children and young people in orphanages, foster care, migrant and refugee camps.
In Portugal the Dream Teens are a national network of teenagers responding to the need to “give a voice” to young people. The project provides a support structure so that their ideas can be heard and have an impact promoting young people’s participation in society and influence on public policy in the areas of wellbeing, health and citizenship.