Recherche en bref : L’outil Wellness Quest, conçu par des jeunes, pour les jeunes

The Wellness Quest: A tool developed by youth, for youth, enhances mental health literacy and self-advocacy

What you need to know

Only one in five youth who experience mental health difficulties get the treatment they need. Improving their mental health literacy may enable them to access the services they need and improve their mental health. However, young people say there is a lack of accurate and appropriate information that is relevant to them. A youth team working with researchers at CAMH developed a tool to address this gap. They conducted focus groups and an online survey to learn what youth thought of the tool. Participants said the tool was useful to educate youth and promote help seeking. In addition to the information presented, they said more information was needed for specific populations, such as Indigenous communities, immigrants, refugees and 2SLGBTQ+ youth. They also felt the tool should be available in multiple languages, both online and in print.

 

This Research Snapshot is based on the article, “The Wellness Quest: A health literacy and self-advocacy tool developed by youth for youth mental health” published in Health Expectations in 2021. https://doi.org/10.1111/hex.13214

Research Snapshots are brief, clear language summaries of research articles, presented in a user-friendly format.

What is this research about?

Only one in five youth who experience mental health difficulties get the treatment they need. This is aggravated by barriers such as stigma, confidentiality concerns and a poor understanding of mental health in general. In addition, youth may be unaware of the help available and how to access supports.

Improving mental health literacy in youth may improve service use and the mental health of this age group. Young people say there is a lack of reliable and relevant information about mental health in youth, making it challenging for them to make informed decisions about their own mental health.

A youth team working with researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health developed a tool to help youth to advocate for themselves when seeking care.

What did the researchers do?

First, the youth team developed a draft of the Wellness Quest tool. Then, a youth research team from the McCain Centre Youth Engagement Initiative led five focus groups and distributed one online survey to evaluate the Wellness Quest tool. They identified common themes from the focus groups and summarized the survey results. Additional research staff at CAMH supported the work.

Five focus group consultations were conducted with 52 participants living in five provinces across Canada. An anonymous survey was available nationwide. Twenty-five participants provided data on the content of the scale used in the tool. The participating youth were between the ages of 16 and 26.

This was a youth-led project, where young people were involved at every step of the design process, from defining the central need, to designing the tool, to then evaluating the tool. A broader number of youth were also engaged in a variety of ways based on their level of interest, availability, commitment and skill. Youth research assistants were trained and tasked with identifying host agencies in their communities and recruiting participants in their networks.

What did the researchers find?

Participants felt the Youth Wellness Quest tool achieved what it was designed to do—to both educate youth and enable them to advocate for themselves. They also felt that it was easy to read and understand.

In addition to content outlined within the tool, they also felt that the tool should include information about services for specific groups such as Indigenous communities, immigrants, refugees and 2SLGBTQ+ youth. They also wanted the tool to be available in multiple languages, both online and in print.

It was important to participants that youth would be able to use the tool privately and confidentiality and in non-stigmatizing ways.

The researchers noted that the youth who were involved in the project invested a lot of their time and expertise in the process. Because of this, the researchers felt it was crucial to provide compensation to the youth and ensure that their engagement also helped them meet their personal goals. The project team also found that research training was a challenge, since the standardized research trainings are not designed for additional stakeholders, such as service users and  youth, who may not have a research background.

Limitations of the research

The researchers reported that their project had a number of limitations. First, the discussion about opinions on mental health and services during focus groups was framed as an “ice breaker.” These often went longer than expected, which may have interfered with discussions about the tool. Secondly, youth research assistants recruited people within their community networks, including some youth they knew, which may have limited recruitment. Finally, participants were asked to review the tool before participating in the focus groups, but this was not verified.

How can you use this research?

This research may be of use to researchers and program/project leaders who are interested in engaging youth in their work and doing youth-led or service user-led research.

Where can I see the Youth Wellness Quest tool?

The Youth Wellness Quest tool is publicly available at www.youthwellnessquest.ca.

About the researchers

Asavari Syan,1 Janice Y. Y. Lam,1 Christal G. L. Huang,1 Maverick S. M. Smith,1 Karleigh Darnay,1 Lisa D. Hawke,1,2 Joanna Henderson1,2

  1. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, ON
  2. University of Toronto, Toronto, ON

 

This Research Snapshot is based on the article, “The Wellness Quest: A health literacy and self-advocacy tool developed by youth for youth mental health” published in Health Expectations in 2021. https://doi.org/10.1111/hex.13214