A new Europe-wide project begins to look after young people’s mental health and wellbeing

The project called Mental Health in Youth Work focuses on the rapidly growing prevalence of mental health issues in young people. The multiyear project will shift the focus of youth workers and young people on ways that everyone can use to take care of their own wellbeing.
Nuori valkoinen nainen mustissa vaatteeissa. Taustalla isot sini-mustat piirretyt siivet.

The European Mental Health in Youth Work project strives to highlight mental health skills as civic skills that are important to everyone. When a person understands what kind of things their wellbeing consists of, they can make choices that have a direct impact on their own life. Once they understand how their choices affect them, they can learn to maintain their own mental health. With these skills, they can survive during more difficult times or find relief from malaise.

Mental health literacy means wellbeing for oneself and others

“I came to coordinate this project from beyond the boundaries of mental health work, but I have already realised the benefits of these skills in the management of my own life,” says Paavo Pyykkönen, Coordinator of the European project from the EU’s Erasmus+ programme.

The idea is that youth workers would also realise the same and thus perceive their own role in supporting young people’s wellbeing. It makes sense for youth workers to know how to support the wellbeing of young people, but also to know the limits of their role. Such mental health literacy means a better understanding of mental health, but also the importance of one’s own actions in supporting the young person.

It makes sense for youth workers to know how to support the wellbeing of young people, but also to know the limits of their role.

If an adult can make the young person understand the matter better, young people can also support each other’s mental wellbeing. This will also be considered in the European project. “Of course, it would be good for young people to receive first-hand knowledge on such matters. Then they will understand how to take care of themselves and can also advise their peers. We intend to include young people in some of our events and give them an opportunity to play an active role in their own wellbeing,” Pyykkönen explains the future activities in the project.

Join the events!

The European project is just starting out, but new developments are already being planned. The activities will begin with a youth worker training event organised in Helsinki between 12 and 16 December 2022. The event will be organised in cooperation with Mieli Mental Health Finland and Yeesi Youth Mental Health Association. Participants of the training event will learn to see mental health as a positive resource and as something that they can develop with their own actions. They will also discuss the youth worker's role in supporting young people's mental health and come up with ideas for changes that could help their entire organisation to support young people's mental health.

Please consider participating in, for example, the series of online mental health sessions starting in February 2023, in which different mental health phenomena will be presented in short webinars. A major event will be held in Turkey in May, to which young people and youth workers will be invited to get inspired about mental wellbeing. All events will be announced on the Finnish National Agency for Education's website, Facebook group and Instagram.


Author: Paavo Pyykkönen