Building resilience in young people through meaningful participation

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DOI: 10.5172/jamh.5.1.34
Cite this publication
Abstract
Building resilience in young people is an important goal if we are to strengthen capacity and promote skills that help to reduce mental health problems. One way to foster resilience in young people is through meaningful youth participation; that is, decision-making by young people that involves meaning, control, and connectedness. Whilst youth participation may occur in recognition of young people's rights to be involved in all decisions that affect them, meaningful participation can itself enhance a young person's sense of connectedness, belonging and valued participation, and thereby impact on mental health and well being. Based on its extensive experience working collaboratively with young people, the Inspire Foundation, in partnership with young people, has developed a flexible and diverse approach to youth participation. This paper outlines the theoretical and conceptual underpinnings of the model, and discusses the operationalisation of program goals, atmosphere and activities that seek to build resilience through meaningful youth participation.
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Australian e-Journal for the Advancement of Mental Health (AeJAMH), Volume 5, Issue 1, 2006
ISSN: 1446-7984
Building resilience in young people through meaningful participation
Kylie G. Oliver
1
, Philippa Collin
2
, Jane Burns
2,3
and Jonathan Nicholas
2
1. School of Psychology, James Cook University, Singapore International Campus, Singapore
2. The Inspire Foundation, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
3. VicHealth Public Health Research Fellow, Gustav Nossal Institute, The University of Melbourne,
Australia
Abstract
Building resilience in young people is an important goal if we are to strengthen capacity and
promote skills that help to reduce mental health problems. One way to foster resilience in
young people is through meaningful youth participation; that is, decision-making by young
people that involves meaning, control, and connectedness. Whilst youth participation may
occur in recognition of young people’s rights to be involved in all decisions that affect them,
meaningful participation can itself enhance a young person’s sense of connectedness,
belonging and valued participation, and thereby impact on mental health and well being.
Based on its extensive experience working collaboratively with young people, the Inspire
Foundation, in partnership with young people, has developed a flexible and diverse approach
to youth participation. This paper outlines the theoretical and conceptual underpinnings of the
model, and discusses the operationalisation of program goals, atmosphere and activities that
seek to build resilience through meaningful youth participation.
Keywords
resilience, young people, youth participation, youth development, mental health
Introduction
Resilience refers to an individual’s capacity to
successfully adapt to change and stressful events
in healthy and constructive ways (Catalano,
Berglund, Ryan et al., 2002a; Garmezy, 1991).
Resilience has been conceptualised as a dynamic
process involving an interaction between both
risk and protective processes that act to modify
the effects of an adverse life event (Rutter, 1985,
1999). In this context, resilience does not so
much imply invulnerability to stress, but rather
an ability to recover from negative events
(Garmezy, 1991).
Traditionally the tumultuous period between
childhood and adulthood has been considered
‘normal’ adolescent development. Whilst the
majority of young people transition from
adolescence to adulthood without any major
problems (Offer & Schonert-Reichl, 1992),
approximately 14 percent of Australian
adolescents experience mental health problems
(Sawyer, Arney, Baghurst et al., 2002). Building
skills that help to promote resilience in young
people, therefore, is an important strategy in the
amelioration of mental health problems.
Resilience is not necessarily an innate attribute;
rather it may be best described as an adaptive
process involving interactions between risk and
protective factors across multiple levels of an
individual’s lived experience (Olsson, Bond,
Contact: Philippa Collin, The Inspire Foundation, PO Box 1790, Rozelle, NSW, Australia. pippa@inspire.org.au
Citation: Oliver, K.G., Collin, P., Burns, J. & Nicholas, J. (2006). Building resilience in young people through
meaningful participation. Australian e-Journal for the Advancement of Mental Health 5(1)
www.auseinet.com/journal/vol5iss1/oliver.pdf
Published by: Australian Network for Promotion, Prevention and Early Intervention for Mental Health (Auseinet)
www.auseinet.com/journal
Received 19 April 2005; Revised 24 May 2006; Accepted 26 May 2006
1
Oliver, Collin, Burns & Nicholas
Burns et.al., 2003). Resilient individuals utilise a
set of coping skills and resources that allow them
to deal effectively with stress and the
development of resilience occurs when there is
an interaction between an individual and stress
(Blum, 1998a). Researchers typically categorise
resilient attributes into dispositional or personal
characteristics (e.g., a sense of spirituality,
positive social skills, and personal efficacy),
family or social characteristics (e.g.,
connectedness to a parent or caregiver), and
environmental characteristics (such as
involvement in one’s community, access to
health services and the presence of caring adults)
(e.g., Blum, 1998b; Garmezy, 1985). Resilient
outcomes refer to particular patterns of
functional behaviour despite risk (Olsson, et al.,
2003). Good mental health, social competence,
and functional capacity are examples of resilient
outcomes (Garmezy, 1991).
Models of youth that have focused on correcting
problems or remediating developmental
incapacity and deficit have dominated many
professional fields charged with developing
youth policy (Damon, 2004). However, in the
last two decades preventative approaches,
including positive youth development, have
sought to promote affirmative, supportive
interventions that emphasise potentialities of
young people (Catalano et al., 2002a; Damon,
2004). Prevention programs that aim to reduce
risk and promote protective factors are designed
to enhance resilience in young people.
Traditionally young people have been the
passive recipients of these programs, often
delivered in the school, family or community
and commonly targeting the promotion of one or
more positive life skills. In more recent years,
research has shown that young people have a
greater sense of control, meaning, and
connectedness when they are involved in the
decisions affecting them (Wierenga, 2003).
Involving young people in decision-making is
commonly referred to as ‘youth participation’.
The Inspire Foundation and Reach Out!
The Inspire Foundation is a not-for-profit
organisation that was established in 1996 and has
an 8-year track record of successfully running
technology-based services that create
opportunities for young people to help
themselves and others. The flagship initiative,
Reach Out! (
www.reachout.com.au) is an online
service connecting young people and providing
them with information, referrals to appropriate
sources of help, and stories about how others
manage mental health problems. With over 3.6
million individual visits to the Reach Out!
website since 1998, and more than 130,000
individual visits in the month of March 2006
alone, Reach Out! has established itself as a
preferred online source of mental health advice
and support for young Australians.
Targeting 16-25 year olds, Reach Out! is also
one of the few services specifically addressing
the transition from adolescence to young
adulthood. Currently 35 percent of young people
across Australia aged 17-21 are aware of the
Reach Out! service and 85 percent of those say
that they would recommend it to a friend. One of
its strengths, reflecting Inspire’s underlying
philosophy, is that it is developed with young
people and talks to them via their preferred
medium of communication – the Internet.
Participation is a central tenet of the Inspire
Foundation and more than 330 young people
from a variety of backgrounds aged 16 to 25
have been directly involved in the development
and delivery of the Reach Out! service since
1999. ‘Inclusiveness’ is an organisational value
and Inspire is formally committed to involving
young people in meaningful ways through
collaboration.
The Reach Out! Youth Participation
Model
The Reach Out! Youth Participation model was
established to ensure that young people can
contribute to the development and delivery of
Reach Out! The model is founded on the
underlying principles of youth participation that
emphasise the rights of young people to be
involved in the making of decisions that affect
them, and on positive youth development models
that stress recognising capacity and building
skills. A key feature of the Reach Out! model is
the participation of young people at all levels of
the program, ensuring that they are involved in
developing ideas and making decisions on the
program goals and activities. An action based
research methodology has informed the
development of the model which incorporates
current best practice and ensures that young
2
Oliver, Collin, Burns & Nicholas
people are engaged in, and instigate, significant
changes at all stages of development in the
model.
There are two tiers in the Reach Out! model:
Youth Advisory Boards and the Youth
Ambassador Program. Both tiers seek to achieve
the following objectives:
Provide young people with meaningful
opportunities to be involved in the work of
Inspire;
Provide young people with resources and
training to engage in opportunities to
participate; and,
Strengthen positive mental health and
wellbeing of participants by promoting self
worth, responsibility, autonomy,
accountability, self awareness, emotional
competencies, membership and belonging, and
civic and social competence.
Youth Advisory Board
The Youth Advisory Board is convened three
times a year. Young people from around
Australia are invited to sit on each Board, which
lasts for twelve weeks. Young people self-
nominate and apply online. Board members must
be between 16 and 21 years old. Each Board
consists of approximately 18 young people from
rural, regional and metropolitan Australia. The
Board constitution seeks to enable representation
of the views and opinions of young Australians
from diverse cultural and geographical areas.
Board members communicate on secure online
forums in open discussions with each other and
Inspire Foundation staff. Typically, staff take a
‘backseat’ in Board discussions, but act as
moderators and encourage discussion by raising
questions and ideas, and provide support and
advice.
Key activities of board members are: sharing and
developing ideas for service development and
delivery, marketing and promotion on online
forums, attending training workshops, writing
content for the site (including stories, interviews
and fact sheets) and promoting the service in
their communities.
Youth Ambassador Program
At the end of their three-month term on the
Youth Advisory Board, members are invited to
continue volunteering for Reach Out! by
becoming Youth Ambassadors. The Youth
Ambassador program atmosphere seeks to
emphasise supportive relationships with adults
and peers by focusing on sharing ideas and
working together on and offline to help other
young people through the Reach Out! service.
The program seeks to build a sense of
empowerment by enabling young people to
determine their own levels of contribution.
Young people are supported to develop their
own ideas, goals and activities through working
with each other and program staff. This means
fostering open lines of communication for ideas
through staff engagement with forums, over the
phone and by email. Finally, young people are
encouraged to participate in all aspects of service
development and delivery, including evaluation
and research, for example, presenting to donors
and sponsors, having their story featured on the
home page of the site or writing the Youth
Ambassadors’ report for the organisation’s
Annual Report (alongside the Executive Director
and the Director of the Board). The breadth of
involvement and control over activities that
young people have provides important
opportunities for skill development and
recognition.
Theoretical and conceptual underpinnings
The conceptual framework informing the Reach
Out! model draws on theory from the key areas
of youth participation and youth development,
with a focus on promoting protective factors that
build capacity in young people and enhance
resilience.
Youth participation
There are many models conceptualising young
people’s participation in decision-making. The
most recognised is by Hart (1992) who has
conceptualised youth participation in practice as
a spectrum with forms of non-participation (for
instance, manipulation or tokenism) at one end,
and full participation, where young people
initiate ideas and share decisions with adults, at
the other (e.g., Hart, 1992; Krauskopf, 2000). In
addition, youth participation requires recognising
capacities and building skills (Lansdown, 2001)
of young people. Meaningful participation
occurs when there is meaning, control and
connectedness (Wierenga, 2003). Meaning refers
to doing something that has a bigger purpose and
that the young person believes in. Control relates
3
Oliver, Collin, Burns & Nicholas
to making decisions, being heard and having the
resources, skills and knowledge to see the task
through and do it well. Connectedness is gained
by working with others, and having a sense of
belonging and positive relationships with adults
and peers (Wierenga, 2003). Engaging in
meaningful activities, experiencing control and
autonomy, and feeling connected to one’s
community, are important contributors to the
development of resilience (Catalano et al.,
2002a).
Finally, as youth participation enhances feelings
of control, meaning, and connectedness, it can
contribute to building resilience and
competencies in young people, as well as
supporting several developmental processes
(Dworken, Larsen & Hansen, 2003), such as
identity formation (Waterman, 1984),
developing initiative (Heath, 1999; Larson,
2000), learning of emotion regulation (Catalano
et al., 2002a), fostering social skills (Jarrett,
1998), and acquiring meaningful relationships
with adults (Jarrett, 1995).
Positive youth development
Building on the operational definitions of youth
development objectives developed by Catalano
et al. (2002a), Roth and Brooks-Gunn (2003)
posit that positive youth development programs
have three core elements: program goals;
program atmosphere; and program activities.
Program goals include promoting social,
academic, cognitive, and vocational
competencies, increasing adolescents’
confidence, self-esteem, and self-efficacy,
encouraging connections to other people and
communities, developing character through
increasing self-control and morality, and
fostering caring and compassion. Program
atmosphere refers to an environment that
encourages the development of supportive
relationships with others, empowers youth,
communicates expectations for positive
behaviour, enables opportunities for recognition,
and provides services that are stable and
relatively long-lasting. Program activities
include opportunities for skill development,
engaging in real and challenging activities,
broadening horizons, and increasing available
supports.
Youth participation has been identified as an
important component of achieving some of the
objectives of positive youth development
programs, such as prosocial involvement
(Catalano et al., 2000a). Moreover, many studies
on resilience conclude that young people acquire
critical, adaptive skills not through instruction,
but through experience (Olsson et al., 2003). The
Reach Out! model incorporates the dimensions
of meaningful youth participation to develop the
program goals, atmosphere and activities. These
in turn operationalise positive youth
development objectives, which seek to build
components of resilience as follows. Social and
cognitive competency fall under what have been
described as individual protective factors, and
social connectedness and participation are
examples of social and environmental protective
factors (Olsson et al., 2003; Spence et al., 2005).
Individual protective factors
Social competency
Social competency refers to a range of
interpersonal skills that help young people
integrate thoughts, feelings and actions which
lead to the achievement of social or personal
goals (Catalano, Hawkins, Berglund et al.,
2002b). Development of interpersonal skills
relating to communication and conflict
resolution, and opportunities to practise these
skills, have been identified as the
operationalisation of the goal of social
competency (Roth & Brooks-Gunn, 2003).
These skills may specifically include learning
about and recognising relevant social cues,
accurately interpreting such cues and developing
appropriate responses to interpersonal problems,
and putting those into action (Elias, Weissberg,
Hawkins et al., 1994).
Knowledge development. Youth Ambassadors
work collaboratively with staff to develop
content for the Reach Out! site and are engaged
in the improvement and promotion of the
service. This regularly involves young people
researching and collating information on a range
of mental health, social and health issues, which
seeks to increase their capacity to understand and
manage their own mental health needs and those
of others.
Skills development. Skills development plays an
integral role in the Reach Out! model. Skills
workshops have been developed and
implemented following the Youth Ambassadors’
identification of key areas where they would like
4
Oliver, Collin, Burns & Nicholas
more training and support. These include
training in presentation skills, media
campaigning and interpersonal skills, using an
evaluated training program. The workshops aim
to increase the Youth Ambassadors’ social,
interpersonal, and presentation skills, in order to
assist them in their volunteering and in their
professional lives. They also seek to increase
self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-efficacy, as
a strategy for building skills and abilities to
promote and contribute to Reach Out! and their
communities, and to encourage commitment and
active involvement in Reach Out!
Cognitive competency
Skills including problem-solving, decision-
making, planning and goal-setting have been
identified as indicators of cognitive competency
and therefore contribute to the objectives of
youth development (Roth & Brooks-Gunn,
2003). These same skills have been identified as
individual protective factors that contribute to
positive adaptation associated with resilience
(Spence, Burns, Boucher et al., 2005).
Self-driven involvement. Young people plan and
manage their participation and contribution to
Reach Out! Although the programs are flexible
and require only a minimum level of
participation from the Youth Ambassadors,
young people are encouraged and given many
opportunities to be involved in the different
aspects of the work of the Foundation. Young
people can customise their involvement to their
own skill set and time constraints. They
participate in training, goal setting and project
planning, and develop action plans. Young
people are provided with support from staff and
their peers to follow through on their action plan
ideas as a mechanism for contributing to Reach
Out!
Social and environmental protective factors
Social connectedness and participation
Research has demonstrated that connectedness to
a parent or family is predictive of positive health
outcomes (Resnick, Bearman, Blum et al., 1997).
Additionally, having the support of caring adults
outside of the family is an important contributor
to resilience (Blum, 1998a). More broadly,
research finds that a sense of community and
connectedness has been shown to be important in
enhancing resilience and fostering positive
mental health (Catalano et al., 2002b).
Research has also shown that youth programs
with a focus on helping others improve academic
and social outcomes and enhance self-concept
and community values (Johnson, Beebe,
Mortimer & Snyder, 1998; Moore & Allen,
1996). There is evidence that through drawing
on their own experiences to help others, young
people are better able to deal with, resolve, and
gain some perspective on their own issues
(Follman & Muldoon, 1997). Helping others can
also increase self-esteem (from the knowledge
that one has something to offer), decrease
dependency, and provide a sense of control and a
feeling of social usefulness (Kohler & Strain,
1990; Thoits & Hewitt, 2001; Turner, 1999). In
addition, peer support enables young people to
develop effective coping skills and to receive
social support from peers and adults (Greene &
Walker, 1997).
Providing opportunities for young people to
develop positive relationships with caring adults,
and more broadly strengthening relationships
with other people including their peers, is
considered an important goal of youth
development (Roth & Brooks-Gunn, 2003). As
such, providing opportunities for young people
to make and strengthen positive relationships can
contribute to social and environmental protective
factors.
Helping others and sense of community. Young
people are engaged in activities that directly
build Reach Out!, including writing content,
developing ideas, making decisions about the
strategic development of the service, and
promoting Reach Out! in their communities. All
activities are intended to strengthen the service
and build awareness of the site and as such,
contribute to helping other young people.
Through their participation in the program,
Youth Ambassadors are encouraged to develop
skills and knowledge about mental health issues
that they can use in their role as site moderators
on the Reach Out! public forums, with other
Youth Ambassadors, and in their personal lives.
Peer support training seeks to normalise the
process of seeking help for problems.
A sense of community and connectedness to
others is fostered through sharing ideas and
5
Oliver, Collin, Burns & Nicholas
working towards the achievement of a common
goal. Face-to-face communication and regular
online discussions facilitate the formation of new
friendships and new interests.
Adult support. Inspire Foundation staff provide
the Youth Ambassadors with support for
Foundation activities, interpersonal concerns,
and vocational pursuits. Youth Ambassadors
receive advice and support from staff to develop
an idea or initiative for Reach Out!, materials to
carry out activities, help to plan and organise
travel arrangements, and financial assistance to
cover any costs. Youth Ambassadors often turn
to Inspire Foundation staff to receive support for
interpersonal issues. Counselling skills training
is provided to staff to enable them to discuss
sensitive issues and to provide referrals to
appropriate sources of help. Finally, Inspire
Foundation staff develop opportunities for the
Youth Ambassadors to gain experience in a
range of areas related to vocational pursuits
(such as marketing, public speaking, writing,
web design and development) and provide letters
of reference and recommendation to potential
employers. The program also seeks to enable
young people to develop positive relationships
with organisation supporters and partners. Youth
Ambassadors are encouraged to work with staff
and partners in relation to sponsorship, donor
management, development and corporate
volunteering, which can contribute to the
development of positive relationships with other
adults and organisations and provide them access
to professional skills and resources.
Conclusion
The Reach Out! Youth Participation Model
incorporates the three elements of youth
development programs (that is, program goals,
atmosphere, and activities) proposed by Roth
and Brooks-Gunn (2003) to build resilience
among young people. The goals of the Inspire
Foundation Youth Programs include developing
interpersonal and communication skills,
increasing young volunteers’ confidence, self-
esteem, and self-efficacy, encouraging
connections to other young people and adults in
the community, and fostering caring and
compassion. Program atmosphere is comprised
of a supportive, learning environment that
enables autonomous and self-driven involvement
and recognition for contributions. Program
activities include opportunities to develop and
apply new skills, challenging and rewarding
activities, and involvement in a range of youth
related events and activities. Together, these
specific program goals, atmosphere, and
activities of the Inspire Foundation Youth
Programs seek to promote resilience and enable
the development of positive mental health.
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  • ... The benefits of promoting meaningful participation of young people in issues that are relevant to them have been identified. Oliver, Collin, Burns and Nicholas (2006) carried out an evaluation of the participation of young people in a youth advisory board to improve mental health services. The study found that participation had many benefits for young people, including resilience building, increasing control, connectedness, communication skills, confidence, self-esteem, self-efficacy and acted as a protective factor for mental health problems. ...
    ... It was important to emphasise to the young people the significance and responsibility of their dissemination work -that they had the potential to reach those with the power to affect positive change. Meaningful participation entails doing something that has a bigger purpose: young people believe in this purpose and in their capacity to help others (Oliver et al., 2006;Decker et al., 2011). The steps taken to achieve meaningful participation in the current study are described below. ...
    ... Recognising the capacities of young people is an important part of youth participation (Oliver et al., 2006) and researchers need to assume young people have the capacity to express their views (Lundy et al., 2011). One young person, for example, was very talented at filming and had experience with cameras, and he had a very active role in filming the video. ...
  • ... The benefits of promoting meaningful participation of young people in issues that are relevant to them have been identified. Oliver, Collin, Burns and Nicholas (2006) carried out an evaluation of the participation of young people in a youth advisory board to improve mental health services. The study found that participation had many benefits for young people, including resilience building, increasing control, connectedness, communication skills, confidence, self-esteem, self-efficacy and acted as a protective factor for mental health problems. ...
    ... It was important to emphasise to the young people the significance and responsibility of their dissemination work -that they had the potential to reach those with the power to affect positive change. Meaningful participation entails doing something that has a bigger purpose: young people believe in this purpose and in their capacity to help others (Oliver et al., 2006;Decker et al., 2011). The steps taken to achieve meaningful participation in the current study are described below. ...
    ... Recognising the capacities of young people is an important part of youth participation (Oliver et al., 2006) and researchers need to assume young people have the capacity to express their views (Lundy et al., 2011). One young person, for example, was very talented at filming and had experience with cameras, and he had a very active role in filming the video. ...
    Article
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    The aim of the present study was to explore these challenges in more depth from an international perspective and to share the findings with both practitioners and academics. The objectives were to compare victimisation, depression and body mass index among school children internationally and to share the findings from an Irish context with a view to sustaining and extending this learning internationally.
  • ... workshops) where all participants collaborate to generate ideas, guided by a facilitator, to develop and refine the product, with users always 'signing-off' on design proposals; (d) practitioners/researchers creating the final product according to project requirements, with possible further collaboration with users. CYP might also gain knowledge, skills and career advice from the process (Oliver et al., 2006). ...
    Article
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    Background: There is increasing interest in digital technologies to help improve children and young people's mental health, and the evidence for the effectiveness for these approaches is rising. However, there is concern regarding levels of user engagement, uptake and adherence. Key guidance regarding digital health interventions stress the importance of early user input in the development, evaluation and implementation of technologies to help ensure they are engaging, feasible, acceptable and potentially effective. Co-design is a process of active involvement of stakeholders, requiring a change from the traditional approaches to intervention development. However, there is a lack of literature to inform the co-design of digital technologies to help child and adolescent mental health. Methods: We reviewed the literature and practice in the co-design of digital mental health technologies with children and young people. We searched Medline, PsycInfo and Web of Science databases, guidelines, reviews and reference lists, contacted key authors for relevant studies, and extracted key themes on aspects of co-design relevant to practice. We supplemented this with case studies and methods reported by researchers working in the field. Results: We identified 25 original articles and 30 digital mental health technologies that were designed/developed with children and young people. The themes identified were as follows: principles of co-design (including potential stakeholders and stages of involvement), methods of involving and engaging the range of users, co-designing the prototype and the challenges of co-design. Conclusions: Co-design involves all relevant stakeholders throughout the life and research cycle of the programme. This review helps to inform practitioners and researchers interested in the development of digital health technologies for children and young people. Future work in this field will need to consider the changing face of technology, methods of engaging with the diversity in the user group, and the evaluation of the co-design process and its impact on the technology.
  • ... Meaningful living is an important capacity that can foster resilience and well-being (Oliver, Collin, Burns, & Nicholas, 2006;Wong, 2012). Well-being is generally measured by subjective well-being, defined as comprising affective and cognitive evaluations of one's life (Diener, Lucas, & Oishi, 2018). ...
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    The present study sought to investigate the mediating effect of the affective balance and resilience on the association between meaningful living and psychological health problems among Turkish young adults in the context of pandemic. Participants were 359 Turkish young adults, comprising of primarily female (68.2%), and their age ranged between 18 to 43 (age M = 20.67, SD = 3.62). Findings from this study indicated that meaningful living had a positive predictive effect on resilience and positive affect, as well as a negative predicative on psychological health challenges and negative affect. Resilience and affective balance also mediated the effect of meaningful living on psychological health of young adults. These results suggest that resilience and affective balance are important aspects of implementing meaning-based preventions and interventions. Thus, meaning–based prevention and intervention strategies could be designed to not only to improve individuals’ life meaning and purpose but also build up resilience and positive affective experiences to foster their psychological health.
  • ... Where cultures put a higher value on interdependence rather than autonomy belonging to the group can override individual considerations (Markus & Kitayama, 1991) Positive membership of groups, whether they be friendship networks, strong families or healthy communities can provide social and psychological support, protect and aid in times of need and facilitate access to resources (Duncan et al, 2007). There is evidence that feeling that you belong, promotes resilience and mental health (Oliver et al, 2006;Werner & Smith, 2001) and where connections to positive groups are actively fostered this may inhibit violence and anti-social behaviour (Wilson, 2004;Wolfe et al., 1997) Also, relevant in a discussion on belonging is what happens when people experience rejection. People have a powerful, negative, deeprooted reaction to being socially rejected. ...
    Chapter
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    Recent world events have led to an increased sense of collective fear directed to those perceived as outside the mainstream. This chapter posits that much of that fear is generated by beliefs about others, often stirred by a negative media and political interests. This is also true of those who engage in terrorism – their acts are driven by beliefs that comprise not so much religious faith as a way of making sense of the world. There is much evidence to suggest that military responses to terrorism are counter-productive as are programs aimed at identifying at risk individuals (Byrne, 2017). It has been suggested that more effective anti-terrorism strategies need to focus on the ‘normality’ of people who commit atrocities and intervene early. This includes both community engagement and building an educational climate that breaks down stereotypes and addresses both values and compassion (Singer & Bolz, 2013).
  • ... Over the two days of the workshop, young people began to gain confidence as seen by their increased desires to present and lead activities. Meaningful participation through play itself can enhance a young person's sense of connectedness and belonging because it supports young people to have a sense of control in their own lives, a sense of ownership, and agency, which can have an impact on strengthening mental health and wellbeing (Oliver et al, 2006). When introduced in a way that aligns with individuals' interests and comfort levels play can support young people to develop a deeper sense of self. ...
    Article
    Despite play’s recognition in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and evidence that play is beneficial to children’s development, and a vehicle to support realization of other children’s rights, it is one of the most neglected rights of the child. An overarching devalue of play has implications on its relationship with children’s participation rights and correspondingly the realization of young people’s meaningful participation. This article explores the interplay between the right to play and children’s participation rights. Drawing upon a participatory play-based research qualitative study with young people at a youth-driven child rights workshop entitled XXXX and interviews with adults, the article considers the role of play in relational development for meaningful participation, as well as the devalue of play across young people and adults. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of findings and provides recommendations for the role of play to co-create transformative participatory environments in research, policy, and programs.
  • ... Research on adolescents and youth exposed to high risk repeatedly highlight the role of prosocial behavior as a resilience factor (see Benard 2004;Mandleco and Peery 2000). For instance, Oliver et al. (2006) emphasize that prosocial participation among young people builds resilience, and thus promotes mental health and wellbeing; Zimmerman et al. (2013) state that together with ethnic identity and social support, also prosocial involvement serves as a resilience factor for high-risk youth to overcome the negative outcomes of risk exposure. ...
    Article
    Building on the Altruism Born of Suffering (ABS) Hypothesis, the present research tests the mediator role of prosocial behavior on the link between perceived personal discrimination and several psychological well-being outcomes in a sample of Turkish-Bulgarian minority youth. We argue that perceived personal discrimination is linked to prosocial behavior, which in turn alleviates discriminations’ detrimental effects on life satisfaction, self-esteem, negative affect and loneliness. Results revealed that prosocial behavior partially mediated the link between perceived personal discrimination and life satisfaction, perceived personal discrimination and self-esteem, and perceived personal discrimination and loneliness, while no mediating effect was found for negative affect. Our research contributes to the existing literature on minority youth dealing with discrimination, and proposes prosocial behavior to be a mechanism of resilient functioning against the maladaptive effects of perceived personal discrimination.
  • ... In conclusion, despite greater cumulative trauma and significant negative psychological factors, the high ACEs group engaged in optimal flow experiences, had high autotelic flow-like personality traits, strongly valued creative experiences, and were able to manage stressful situations with a task-oriented strategy. For high achieving individuals, engaging in programs that encourage flow and creative experience may promote purpose, meaning, and optimism (Metzl & Morrell, 2008;Oliver, Collin, Burns, & Nicholas, 2006;Swart, 2014). ...
    Article
    Background: Acquiring more complex coping strategies despite a history of childhood adversity may transpire in settings outside the family home. Objectives: The objectives of this cross-sectional study included investigating coping strategies under stressful situations in a non-clinical sample of active athletes and performing artists. Participants and setting: In this community and university sample (n = 577), 40.4% had no ACEs, 43.4% had 1-3 ACEs, and 16.3% had ≥4 ACEs. Methods: A series of multivariate analyses (gender and age included as covariates) were conducted to examine differences between the three ACE groups. Results: Results indicated no between-subject differences between the three ACE groups for flow-like experiences during preferred activities, although gender differences were significant (p < .001). Individuals in the ≥4 ACEs group endorsed more intense creative experiences compared to the no-ACE and 1-3 ACEs groups (p = .006, η2 = .048); however, in the third MANCOVA they had heightened anxiety, internalized shame, dissociative processing, emotion-oriented coping, and cumulative trauma (p < .001, η2 = .132). There were no group differences for task-oriented and avoidant-oriented coping, a finding that highlights the ability of active individuals to engage in effective coping strategies under stressful situations. Conclusion: Regardless of past childhood adversity history, this non-clinical high achieving sample was able to engage in a range of coping strategies under stress.
  • ... Observing their views is critical in comprehending the perceptions of the affected and informing of the value a community attaches to the challenges that confront it. This is consistent with Oliver et al. (2006) notion that participation enhances feelings of control, meaning and connectedness and that it contributes to building resilience and competencies in people as well as supporting several developmental processes. Molyneux, Jones and Samuels (2016) posit that participation by recipients should not be limited to certain project stages but should be wholly embraced because it is key in enhancing responsiveness to local concerns by development institutions. ...
    Article
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    Cash transfers are increasingly becoming a preferred mode of alleviating human suffering particularly in drought-affected communities in sub-Saharan Africa. The transition from conditional to unconditional cash transfer programming highlights strides that seek to promote local involvement and accommodate consumption choices of vulnerable recipients. This article sought to ascertain ways through which vulnerable societies’ voice and influence are magnified in unconditional cash transfer programming. In addition, the benefits of cash transfers and its contribution in building drought resilience of communities benefitting from World Vision interventions in Umzingwane District were explored. Through the descriptive survey design, data was collected using structured and unstructured questionnaires. Study participants were chosen using simple random and purposive sampling techniques. The findings showed that unconditional cash projects are beneficial in allowing recipients to prioritise deployment of scarce financial resources, influenced entrepreneurship within the locality and manipulated social capital. The article contends that building local resilience to drought was not feasible because of low cash allocations, which were inadequate to sustain household food needs, and this offered less space to invest in non-food items that support resilience processes. The article concluded that life-saving assistance including unconditional cash programming limit vulnerable populations from voicing their aspirations and influencing critical project decisions that have the potential to transform their resilience to drought, hence the need to deepen local participation in humanitarian and developmental projects.
  • Article
    This article analyzes the development of initiative as an exemplar of one of many learning experiences that should be studied as part of positive youth development. The capacity for initiative is essential for adults in our society and will become more important in the 21st century, yet adolescents have few opportunities to learn it. Their typical experiences during schoolwork and unstructured leisure do not reflect conditions for learning initiative. The context best suited to the development of initiative appears to be that of structured voluntary activities, such as sports, arts, and participation in organizations, in which youths experience the rare combination of intrinsic motivation in combination with deep attention. An incomplete body of outcome research suggests that such activities are associated with positive development, but the developmental processes involved are only beginning to be understood. One promising approach has recorded language use and has found that adolescents participating in effective organizations acquire a new operating language that appears to correspond to the development of initiative.
  • Article
    This article summarizes a much lengthier one that appeared in Prevention and Treatment. The earlier article grew out of a project initiated by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. The Positive Youth Development Evaluation project described why policy makers, practitioners, and prevention scientists advocated a shift in approach for how youth issues are addressed in this country. The Positive Youth Development Evaluation project sought to define how youth development programs have been defined in the literature and then to locate, through a structured search, strong evaluations of these programs and summarize the outcomes of these evaluations. In the current article, we explain why prevention has shifted from a single problem focus to a focus on factors that affect both positive and problem youth development, describe what is meant by positive youth development, and summarize what we know about the effectiveness of positive youth develop...
  • Article
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    This article reviews some of the best researched volunteer service programs for adolescents and addresses three major questions: 1) What do existing data tell us about the effectiveness of community volunteer service programs in positively influencing the lives of the participants? 2) What do we know about why such programs work? 3) What are the most promising directions for future research and programming efforts to pursue? The review suggests that diverse, successful volunteer programs for adolescents, along with school-based support, are related to improvements in both the academic and social arenas. Specifically, volunteering relates to reduced rates of course failure, suspension from school, and school dropout, and improvement in reading grades; to a reduction in teen pregnancy; and to improved self-concept and attitudes toward society. The conditions under which the volunteering occurs, such as number of hours and the type of volunteer work, seem in some cases to be important to these outcomes, as does the age of the student volunteer; however, much is yet to be understood about these factors.
  • Article
    This article is taken from a report on the second year of research on quantitative outcomes of K-12 students who participated in service learning projects in Florida in 1995-96. The study involved 29,000 students in 107 subgrants. It illustrates what one state has been able to accomplish.
  • Article
    The primary goal of this article is to discuss the family experiences of socially mobile adolescents in poor African American neighborhoods. Based on a review of existing qualitative studies, these data identify and describe an array of family strategies that buffer adolescents from the risks of growing up in poverty. These observations expand on quantitative studies that limit their discussions to a small number of parenting behaviors. The secondary goal of the article is to use the qualitativefindings to inform youth-serving programs. Grounded in the real-life experiences of families and their children, such programs can use qualitative data to maximize positive developmental outcomes for poor African American youth. Program proposals are suggested that demonstrate how scholarly research can be usedfor applied purposes.
  • Article
    Previous research has suggested that volunteering may have beneficial developmental consequences for adolescents. However, the sparse research on youth volunteerism is generally limited by a cross-sectional design that does not elucidate causal relations. This study addresses the questions, "Who participates in volunteer work?" and "What are the effects of youth volunteerism?" A panel study of a representative community sample of both volunteers and nonvolunteers indicates that those adolescents who become involved in volunteer activities have higher educational plans and aspirations, higher grade point averages, higher academic self-esteem, and a higher intrinsic motivation toward school work. But irrespective of these bases of selection, there is evidence that volunteering affects important work-related and social outcomes. Volunteering is found to strengthen intrinsic work values and the anticipated importance of community involvement and to decrease the anticipated importance of career.
  • Article
    This article explores the recent approach to youth research and practice that has been called positive youth development. The author makes the case that the approach grew out of dissatisfaction with a predominant view that underestimated the true capacities of young people by focusing on their deficits rather than their developmental potentials. The article examines three areas of research that have been transformed by the positive youth approach: the nature of the child; the interaction between the child and the community; and moral growth. It concludes with the point that positive youth development does not simply mean an examination of anything that appears to be beneficial for young people. Rather, it is an approach with strong defining assumptions about what is important to look at if we are to accurately capture the full potential of all young people to learn and thrive in the diverse settings where they live.