Suggested citation: Kuosmanen, T., Dowling, K. and Barry, M.M., (2020). Practice Brief: A Framework for Promoting Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing in the European Youth Sector. A Practice Brief produced as part of the Erasmus+ Project: Promoting positive mental health in the European Youth sector. World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Health Promotion Research, National University of Ireland Galway. www.nuigalway.ie/hprc
As part of the European Youth Goals, young people have identified better mental health and wellbeing as one of their main concerns for young people today (www.youthgoals.eu). The increasingly complex global, economic, socio-cultural and planetary climate presents significant challenges for young people, which are reflected in rising levels of mental health problems and youth suicide.1,2 Positive mental health and wellbeing and the acquisition of important social and emotional life skills ensure that young people can handle these challenges effectively and flourish in the 21st century.
The youth sector setting is an important one for promoting positive young people’s mental health and social and emotional wellbeing by providing a supportive environment for building positive relationships with adults and peers and practicing social and emotional competencies. Although many innovative practices are currently applied in youth settings, there is a lack of a systematic approach for promoting young people’s mental health and wellbeing in the European youth sector.
This practice brief provides an overview of a framework for promoting positive mental health and wellbeing in the European youth sector. A framework is a tool that helps to organise ideas to provide a foundation for thinking, communicating and acting.3 The framework provides the background and theory for promoting positive mental health and wellbeing in the European youth sector. Based on a review of the literature, the framework outlines six domains of social and emotional skills that should be promoted in youth setting: How I think, How I feel, How I relate, Values, Mindsets and Identity. These competencies can be promoted in youth organisations through taught and caught practices. The framework also highlights the importance of engaging young people’s intrinsic motivation to encourage social and emotional learning, and outlines the competencies required from youth workers in order to promote positive youth mental health.
The framework was developed as part of the Erasmus+ project Promoting Positive Mental Health in the European Youth Sector. The framework, along with consultations with youth workers and young people in Europe, inform the development of a manual and training for youth workers and guidelines for youth organisations in promoting positive youth mental health.