Strengthening Youth Services

A new study finds that there are wide discrepancies in the mental health outcomes of young people living in rural and urban areas. The research published in the Journal of Applied Social Science focuses on youth suffering from Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED) that impacts their family life, relationships, self-care, and their learning.

Research already identifies that Latin and Black youth are more likely to suffer from SED. The present study analysed institutional data about 257 youth aged 14 to 21 years who use mental health services.

The study finds that even if youth improve using mental health services, once their services cease, wellbeing is more likely to deteriorate if they live in poor neighbourhoods than those living in affluent suburbs.

The study argues that local communities are in dire need of upgrading their infrastructure to better support the emotional needs of youth. The researchers write:

The implication for community action is prevention. Here, we think of the metaphor of saving people being swept downstream by a river. The immediate goal is to throw a lifeline and pull them out. But when the number of people being swept downstream keep coming, one has to begin wondering what is happening upstream.

The researchers suggest that schools adopt a more inclusive model of education that is culturally sensitive of minorities. Communities can also help by better publicising the risks associated with mental health prevention. They also see that social marketing can help to minimise the stigma surrounding mental illness. They suggest creating specific campaigns targeting sub-groups, rather than trying to do a society-wide campaign. Groups that would benefit from social marketing about youth’s emotional and mental health needs include: police, probation officer, judges, lawyers and schools.

Read the study (pay-per view from publisher).

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