Helping you get through tough times

Youth participation and collaboration at IAYMH 2017

The fourth International Association for Youth Mental Health (IAYMH) Conference was held at the end of September, in Dublin.

Dervla Deacon, a Health Promotion Student from Waterford IT was there and gives us her thoughts.

IAYMH workshop youth panelFounded in 2012, the IAYMH was established to assist in advocating and collaborating for the mental health needs of young people across the world, ensuring that young people have an active voice in deciding what is best for them.

The three-day event brought together leaders, researchers, experts and young people who have a shared interest in creating positive change regarding youth mental health.

I was a member of a youth panel discussion in a pre-conference workshop that focused on technology and mental wellbeing, which is an example of how the association involves young people in creating positive change.

How can we harness technology to improve young people’s mental wellbeing?

Here, we talked about social media and what social media platforms are most popular amongst
young people today. I talked about how visual social networks like Snapchat and Instagram are
becoming more popular amid young people.

During the panel discussion, we also discussed how youth participation is necessary for the
development of quality assured services in delivering positive change and improving youth mental
health services.

I expressed the importance of technology and how it can be used as an early
intervention for services to help improve the mental health of young people who are suffering from
a mental health issue.

There is so much more availability online i.e. it is not just a nine to five service and it’s a great way of reaching all young people. Information-based services are effective for mental health education and awareness and provide us with the tools to help us deal with stress or other mental health difficulties.

Keep it visual

In the closing plenary session by Mario Alverez, who is the head of eHealth at Orygen talked about the popularity of visual social media, particularly amongst younger teens.

He stated that Snapchat has as many teens as Facebook to this date and 32% of teens list Instagram as their most important social media platform.

Student mental health

There was a great range of presentations and speakers at the IAYMH Conference this year. From app
designs to physical activity interventions and peer support programmes, there was something for
everyone at it.

Rachel Piper, a Policy Manager from Student Minds (UK), talked about the importance of peer support for third-level student mental wellbeing. Student Minds is the UK’s student mental health charity, with the aim of ‘empowering students and members of the university community to develop the knowledge, confidence and skills to look after their own mental health, support others and create change.’

Future proofing youth mental health

Rachel spoke about her current project in which she will be involved in developing the Student Living Project with the UPP Foundation.

Having noticed that it is sometimes the accommodation staff, like a cleaner or the security staff who are often one of the first points of contact that pick up on a student experiencing mental health difficulties, Rachel is currently working on a new training course for staff members who are working in student
accommodation.

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