Prioritizing young people's emotional health support needs via participatory research

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Abstract

Accessible summary

What is known on this subject?

What this paper adds to existing knowledge?

What are the implications for practice?

Introduction:

Youth mental health is a global concern. Emotional health promotes mental health and protects against mental illness. Youth value self-care for emotional health, but we need better understanding of how to help them look after their emotional health. Participatory research is relevant, since meaningful engagement with youth via participatory research enhances the validity and relevance of research findings and supports young people's rights to involvement in decisions that concern them.

Aim:

We aimed to develop a participatory approach for involving youth in research about their emotional health support preferences.

Method:

Our team included a young expert-by-experience. We developed a qualitative, participatory research design. Eleven youth (16–18 years) participated in focus groups, followed immediately by a nominal group exercise in which they analysed the data, thus enhancing methodological rigour.

Results:

This process highlighted youth perspectives on self-care strategies for emotional health.

Discussion and implications for practice:

Our simple participatory research approach generated trustworthy and credible findings, which accurately reflect youth perspectives and are consistent with the literature, endorsing our method. Young people said that they want reassurances of quality and safety when accessing digital mental health resources. These findings can inform future development of youth-oriented digital mental health resources.

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