This project aims to advance understanding of youth agency in mental health and contribute to the achievement of a sustainable and healthy future for Brazilian youth.
The recently published Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health and Sustainable Development proposes a paradigm shift in our conceptualisation of mental health, in light of the broad understanding of health and wellbeing envisioned in the sustainable development goals (SDGs). First, the Commission’s report emphasises a dimensional approach to mental health, understood as a continuum from wellbeing to severely disabling conditions. Second, the report calls for an increased focus on wellbeing promotion and early intervention, and innovative approaches to promoting wellbeing, including peer-led and community activities.
Underlying this new paradigm lies a systemic change in our collective sense of agency and responsibility: promoting mental health and wellbeing is relevant to all, across age groups, sectors and specialties. In particular, as many have argued, encouraging young people to take an active role in championing wellbeing initiatives and joining wider debates surrounding mental health interventions is key to advancing the sustainable developmental goal of promoting wellbeing for all at all ages (SDG3).
Working in collaboration with groups of adolescents in Brazil, this project investigates young people’s sense of agency and responsibility towards mental health promotion in their immediate social contexts and in broader society. The project involves two phases:
- A preliminary mapping of young people’s understandings and experiences of agency and responsibility in the context of mental health promotion, and what they perceive to be facilitators and barriers to the expression of this agency
- Develop, test and iterate a digital tool (i.e. a “storytelling chatbot”) aimed at assessing and strengthening young people’s agency and responsibility towards wellbeing promotion for all.
We hope this project advances our understanding of youth agency in mental health. Our systematic and co-productive research in Brazil should help us learn lessons in how young people and digital innovations can contribute to sustainable mental health and wellbeing across diverse contexts. - Professor Ilina Singh, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford.
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