Social cohesion for mental well-being among adolescents



WHO/HBSC Forum 2007

This report is a compilation of background papers and case studies presented by partners taking part in the WHO/HBSC  Forum 2007 process.The WHO/Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) Forum process contributes to follow-up to the Ministerial Conference, as well as the WHO European strategy for child and adolescent health and development, through its focus on social cohesion for mental well-being among adolescents. The rationale for selection of this topic for the 2007 process is perhaps best presented by the statistics: an estimated 10−20% of adolescents have one or more mental or behavioural problems, and suicide is the second leading cause of death among those aged 15–35 years in the WHO European Region.
In addition to engaging interdisciplinary teams from Member States in the drafting of case studies on policies and interventions responding to this challenge, the Forum process also included the preparation of background papers on: cross-national HBSC data on mental well-being in school-aged children in Europe; socioeconomic inequalities in mental health among adolescents
in Europe; and economic aspects of mental health in children and adolescents.
In reading this fi nal report, it is clear that countries have much to learn from each other on how health systems can be strengthened to promote the mental well-being of young people and prevent mental disorders among this age group. The case studies describe services delivered through schools and in communities, including through strengthened primary care. They convey how data on adolescent mental well-being, mental health and social capital can be used for the design of policies and interventions. They depict the integration of mental health promotion in other services to meet young people’s needs, and specifi c measures to overcome barriers to access. They defi ne challenges in acquiring suffi cient human resources for implementing programmes and explain how training of personnel within and beyond the health sector has helped overcome these. The studies underline the importance of suffi cient fi nancing for sustainability, and consistently emphasize the need for supportive legislation and governance mechanisms (including those of an intersectoral nature) that enable action on the wider determinants of child and adolescent mental health. The call for protecting the mental well-being of socially disadvantaged young people underpins all studies..