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Monday 26 – Wednesday 28 February 2024


Short-term recommendations

Communication and social networks

  1. Given research findings that show the importance of community and social networks in supporting adolescent resilience and wellbeing, providing young people with skills to navigate their social worlds is key. Indeed, empowering adolescents through interventions and education programmes that focus on equipping them with key skills and knowledge to navigate their social digital and non-digital lives effectively can help mitigate many of the adverse effects of violence and trauma. As such, enhancing skills amongst young people to navigate their social and emotional worlds as a foundational pillar of health can help making sure adolescents can articulate their needs and access support systems. Equally there is a clear need to educate parents and caregivers on adolescent brain development and trauma responses.

Cross-sectoral collaboration

  1. To address the wide range of challenges experienced by adolescents, short-term efforts should also focus on increasing collaboration across sectors. This includes the need to adopt a common understanding of adolescence and the opportunity it offers, as well as a common understanding of sustainable interventions to prevent and effectively respond to adversity, violence and trauma. This also includes convening stakeholders across the health, education, social welfare and justice systems to design coordinated strategies, policies and interventions.
  2. Developing inter- and cross-sectorial partnerships in this way also provides opportunities for sectors to share knowledge, data, resource and best practices to increase the impact, efficacy and sustainability of outcomes. Barriers to cross-sectoral collaboration were also identified such as territoriality, lack of common understanding and scare resources. Such challenges need to be addressed.

Promoting meaningful adolescent engagement and participation

  1. Short-term strategies should also focus on empowering adolescents to actively take part in decision-making processes that impact their lives. This includes providing opportunities for adolescents to contribute ideas, voice their opinions and shape interventions designed to meet their rights and their participation needs. Creating child-friendly mechanisms and platforms that allow adolescents to engage in policies and interventions that directly impact them can help ensure their perspectives are integrated throughout the policy formulation and intervention development process.
  2. Moreover, providing ecosystems within families, communities, educational programmes and healthcare, where adolescents feel seen and valued, and where their participation is encouraged, is therefore also pivotal.

Medium-term recommendations

Strengthening policies to support adolescents

  1. In the medium term, it is vital that efforts are focused on advocating for policy change that prioritises adolescents’ wellbeing and development. This entails advocating for evidence-based policies that draw on neuroscientific research applicable to adolescents to ensure that the unique needs of young people are not only taken into consideration but are at the centre of policy formulating processes. This includes ensuring that adolescents receive relevant help to articulate their needs and access support systems effectively. Again, this also includes educating parents and caregivers and communities on adolescent brain development and trauma responses.

Implement adolescent-centric approaches

  1. Adolescents need to be at the centre of policies and interventions that are about them. Adolescents bring valuable lived experiences of the challenges they face, insights into the type of support they require and often also bring perspectives that may not even have been considered by adults. As such, policies and interventions need to centre around the unique needs and capabilities of adolescents, in order to empower them to actively shape their own social environments and make informed decisions about their own wellbeing.
  2. Furthermore, ensuring that support systems and services are adolescent-friendly to make sure adolescents feel comfortable seeking help and guidance, is also essential.

Long-term recommendations

Investing in efforts across the socio-economic ecosystem of adolescents[6][7]

  1. Adolescence is a period of heightened vulnerability but also a period of opportunity for development. As such, investments should focus on programmes that promote positive youth development, such as parenting programmes that support caregivers of adolescents and comprehensive school health programmes. Indeed, empirical evidence has found that both parenting and school programmes can have a positive impact on a wide range of wellbeing outcomes for adolescents and immediate family members.
  2. Given the intergenerational aspects of violence and trauma, investing in interventions that address multiple levels of the socio-economic ecosystem surrounding the adolescent model is crucial for breaking cycles of violence and fostering long-term healing in communities. Interventions and policies targeting harmful social and gender norms and other risk factors associated with violence also play a vital role in creating safe and peaceful environments for adolescents that are conducive to healthy development.

Advocating for long-term political and financial investments

  1. Long-term efforts should also aim to advocate for sustained commitment and investment in adolescent health and wellbeing. Historically, adolescents have often been overlooked, as they are often not considered children, nor are they considered adults. Adolescence is a critical period of development with far-reaching implications for future health and social outcomes, both on an individual and societal level.
  2. By integrating adolescents’ mental health and wellbeing into broader policy agendas at national, regional and global levels, the unique needs of adolescents can be prioritised and addressed more comprehensively.
  3. Moreover, by securing dedicated funding streams that are earmarked for adolescents’ mental health and development initiatives, targeted programmes, research and interventions specifically catering to the unique needs of adolescents can be ensured. Ultimately, this will help promote the wellbeing of adolescents which will unlock their full potential for the benefit of society as a whole.

[6] The socio-ecological model examines behaviours of individuals within the context of their social and physical environment. The framework is made up of nested layers, ranging from a microsystem, which is closest to an individual, to the macrosystem which is the larger cultural context surrounding an individual.

[7] Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Harvard university press.


Key themes – barriers faced when supporting adolescents exposed to adversity, violence or traumatic experiences


Research priorities

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