Promoting positive mental health amongst young people is an integral part of promoting mental health in the overall population. The recent ‘My World’ National Survey of Youth Mental Health found that almost one in three young people had at some time experienced mental health difficulties (Headstrong and UCD School of Psychology, 2012). The study found that these difficulties generally emerged in early adolescence and peaked in the late teens and early twenties and that self-esteem and coping strategies are strong protective factors for mental health during this key transitional period into adulthood.
Promoting mental, emotional and social wellbeing can enable young people to fulfil their potential and cope with the challenges they face during this key developmental period and into the future. It requires action and collaboration across a variety of sectors including the education, health and community sectors. As an example, the school setting provides an opportunity to reach many young people during these formative years. There is strong evidence that mental health promotion programmes in schools, when implemented effectively, can produce long-term emotional, social and academic benefits for young people (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2009; Barry et al, 2009).