YOUNG PEOPLE’S MENTAL HEALTH
Adolescence has always been a period marked by change and important decisions that affect a young person’s future life. In recent years, the topic of mental health has been raised more and more in relation to young people. Particular attention has been paid to the mental health of young people with emotional and behavioural challenges, as they do not have the same conditions and coping capacities as their peers in the process of becoming independent, which is influenced by their experiences, inappropriate educational approaches and dysfunctional family patterns. The powerlessness of schools, institutions and gaps in systemic support for individuals (e.g. unresponsiveness of CSDs, (in)accessibility of counselling services) are also increasingly influencing the development and progression of emotional, behavioural and, in some cases, mental health challenges. We are also still witnessing the effects of the isolation and closure of schools during the epidemic of C19. Social networks are having an increasing impact on young people’s mental health, often linked to online violence and various forms of abuse.
In this thematic set, we will discuss the most common protective and risk factors for mental health challenges in young people and what coping strategies are most commonly used; how the systems we live in affect our well-being and why; which mental health challenges and disorders are most common among young people and why; what is the state of support programmes at national level and their strengths and weaknesses; what young people miss when seeking help; what are the new and innovative approaches and methods of work that are proving effective in helping young people in need. We invite contributions from practitioners and researchers in the field.
THE PATH TO IDENTITY
Adolescence is the period that separates adulthood from childhood; it is a time of intense development during which not only a young person’s body is shaped, but also their personality matures. The qualities, abilities and weaknesses that they carry within themselves are linked to what happens in the family, which offers early life experiences. The wider environment further influences the biological and psychological forces that determine the individuality. External influences can foster the development, but when an individual comes out of childhood too vulnerable and insufficiently resilient, the demands and pressures of adolescence can be too much of a challenge. In the process of identity formation, the adolescent is expected to become independent of parents and significant others, while facing a number of challenges.
Even today, adolescents’ identity forms reflect their social, value, expressive and activist beliefs and preferences. Even for professionals, newer and less well-known identity forms among young people emerge in the field of sexual orientation, gender identities and even different entities (e.g. furries) and challenge understanding in several areas. Among adolescents with mental health challenges, self-harm behaviour and other forms of deviant behaviour, we observe the emergence of a distinct subcultural field and related identification. All forms of adolescent identity are co-shaped by social networks, which in their own way change and expand the space of possible identities.
In this thematic strand, we expect to see a variety of content that reveals how we deal with young people’s identities in our practical work and engagement with them, in our counselling work and in other forms of work. Contributions should describe how and to what end professionals address these topics with young people, and what are the effective tools, approaches and ways to ensure that young people’s identity exploration is not undermined by potentially risky behaviours. Contributions should include ways of helping young people, suggestions for a systemic approach, identify the role of public services and different forms of help and support.
INNOVATIVE ACTIVITIES IN THE FIELD OF SPORT AND THE ARTS IN THE EDUCATION OF CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS WITH BEHAVIOURAL AND EMOTIONAL CHALLENGES
In educational work with children and adolescents with emotional and behavioural challenges, a variety of sports, arts and cultural activities, which is why we maintain the content strand dedicated to them.
The focus of the contributions should be on innovation and effectiveness of approaches to sport and arts activities in which we as professionals recognise the important contribution to the well-being of the populations we are working with at the conference.
For young people, who are more vulnerable due to their characteristics and lifestyles, education, both formal and non-formal, is of the utmost importance, even though it is often more difficult to access. Non-formal forms of education as well as adaptation and creativity in formal education offer young people the opportunity to discover life’s opportunities, learn social skills, develop potential, strengthen weak areas and orient them towards creative leisure activities linked to their interests.
This theme seeks contributions related to arts, culture and sport. We will be interested in new, up-to-date forms and methods of teaching and education, involving the use of various didactic aids, media and adaptations in the education system. This theme also includes non-formal forms of work in the field of arts and sport, presentations on different project-based forms of education and specialised programmes and approaches in organisations to address the educational challenges of young people from vulnerable groups.
COOPERATION WITH PARENTS – METHODS, APPROACHES, TECHNIQUES
Vulnerable young people often come from families* with a variety of dysfunctional patterns in relationships that significantly shape the environment in which they grow up. As each family is unique, it is important to understand the uniqueness of the relationships between family members and that the family itself is a source of help to improve the situation and can provide the well – being of each and everyone involved in the family ecosystem.
Cooperation between parents (guardians, foster carers) and professionals is important to achieve changes that allow for the optimal development of children, adolescents and their families, not only for development, but also for correction, compensation and empowerment in the process of treatment and work with the individual.
For professionals, dealing with the family is a challenge and often a source of uncertainty: how to design the helping process to reach and empower the family, without making them more vulnerable. The family, as the basic building block of society, is not only confronted with educational dilemmas, but is also faced with multiple tasks and responsibilities in the social environment, which is why the profession needs to continuously identify and monitor how society influences families and where and how it can find new and effective places of support and solutions to bring about change.
In this section you are invited to share with us contributions or experiences that show innovative forms and methods of working with parents and other family members, including possible adaptations and possible didactic aids and media. This theme also includes informal forms of working with parents and families, presentations of different programmes, specialised programmes and approaches taken by organisations and institutions in working with professionals and parents. We also welcome contributions that address the question of how to take a systemic and holistic approach to supporting families and young people’s significant others, what the role of public services is, and what can be done with different forms of help and support for the well-being of the young person.
*Family means all possible forms of living together, including raising children.