Peer Learning: "Participation of young people with mental health issues"

Promoting Mental Health of Young People

While most youth are healthy, physically and emotionally, one in every four to five youth in the general population suffer from mental health issues. Young people with mental health issues need extra support to fully participate. This is on the agenda in many European countries. Promoting the (mental) health of young people is also one of the eight action areas in the European youth strategy. The Netherlands EU presidency in the first half year of 2016 addressed this issue during several meetings. Together with Finland - and with the participation of Ireland, Cyprus, Malta, Romania, Greece and Scotland and Estonia - the topic of the participation of young people with mental health issues and the role of youth work will be continued during a peer review.

Peer Learning Process

The peer learning activity will be spread out over the course of 1,5 – 2 years where three seminars will be organized in different countries. The Netherlands will organize the first peer review in Amsterdam from 2 to 4 November 2016.

Subject of this first meeting is the role of youth work (formal and informal) in relation to participation by young people with mental issues; focusing on participation, empowerment and inclusion. So we look at the topic from the perspective of opportunities!

The peer review starts from the assumption that in order to contribute to better mental health that youth work and non-formal education activities play an important role, which can be complementary to mental health and treatment services. But that this additional role is not always seen. Mental health as a topic is often taboo in youth work – considered a subject which is simply too difficult to approach with young people, or even one which presents such a minefield of possible responses from young people that it’s simply not worth the effort. This is especially the case when those young people have other issues in their lives, ones that seem far more important and therefore more worthy of our skills as youth workers. On the other hand the mental health issues often focus very much on the problem and the treatment and have not enough focus on what is going well, the talents and skills and the participation in daily life.

The peer review will explore ways in which the cooperation can be enhanced and will focus especially at the way in which young people themselves, as experienced experts as well as active participants, can be empowered by focusing on talents and skills. For this we will - during the peer review - look at different aspects of the role of youth work and youth services towards mental health. The peer review will explore three themes, starting with the meeting in Amsterdam on the role of youth work. In Finland in June 2017 the focus will be on how to educate youth workers in working with young people with mental health issues and which tools are available.

The last meeting will take place from 29 november to 1 December in Rotterdam, the Netherlands and will focus on the role of school in the participation and inclusion of young people with mental health issues.


Caroline Vink
Senior Advisor Transformation of Family and Children Services

The Netherlands Youth Institute
Catharijnesingel 47
P.O. Box 19221
3501 DE Utrecht The Netherlands 
t +31 (0)30 230 6408 (direct and mobile)

Elina Marjamäki
Project Planner; Mental Health Promotion of Young People

The Finnish Association for Mental Health
Maistraatinportti 4 A
00240 Helsinki
Tel. +358 40 678 7295