Mental Health in Displaced Child and Youth Populations: A Developmental and Family Systems Lens

Mental Health in Displaced Child and Youth Populations: A Developmental and Family Systems Lens

AUTHOR(S)
Zoe Taylor; Josiah Kaplan

Published: 2023 Innocenti Working Papers

Mental Health in Displaced Child and Youth Populations: A Developmental and Family Systems Lens addresses the mental health of children who are displaced due to crises. Children who are displaced experience an array of adverse situations prior to, during and after their displacement that impact their well-being, health, adjustment and developmental trajectories. However, research remains limited with respect to understanding the impact of displacement on mental health and addressing the roles of children’s ecological contexts (in particular the family). In this working paper, the authors summarize the knowledge base of mental health in displaced populations from peer-reviewed journal articles with a focus on the last 10 years and using meta-analyses of mental health research. Based on this evidence (as well as gaps and limitations), we present a framework and recommendations for guiding future research.

MIND THE GAP: Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Interventions – An evidence and gap map of low and middle-income countries

MIND THE GAP: Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Interventions – An evidence and gap map of low and middle-income countries

Published: 2022 Innocenti Research Report

Mental disorders affect about 1 in 7 children and adolescents worldwide, with 50% arising before the age of 14. Despite the high burden and early onset, most conditions remain unrecognized and untreated. We mapped evidence on the effectiveness of child and adolescent (ages 0-19) mental health and psychosocial support interventions in low- and middle-income countries within the last 12 years and identified 697 records from 78 countries.

The field is reactive rather than proactive, with most interventions focusing on treatment rather than promotion or prevention. Most mental health research is conducted in educational settings and focuses on early and late adolescence. Research on early childhood interventions as well as evidence to address the mental health and psychosocial needs of children in humanitarian settings are scarce.

Mental health intervention research lacks diversity: less than one third of studies and reviews focused on specific population groups. Despite the known potential for digital interventions to overcome a range of barriers, the field is understudied with very limited evidence across all outcomes. In 60 countries, no research was identified. There were also important geographical disparities and research gaps in West and Central Africa.

Life in Colours: Children’s and adolescents’ experiences, perceptions and opinions on the COVID-19 pandemic

Life in Colours: Children’s and adolescents’ experiences, perceptions and opinions on the COVID-19 pandemic

Published: 2022 Innocenti Research Report

This report recounts the journeys of a group of adolescents through the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy, one of the first countries to be affected by the virus. It is the first product of an in-depth qualitative study that aims to understand the experiences of children and young people from their point of view and through their words.

The data for this project were collected online between February and June 2021 with 114 participants between the ages of 10 and 19, who attended lower and upper secondary schools in 16 regions of Italy, and included children and young people who identify as LGBTQI+, unaccompanied and separated children, and adolescents from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. 

It’s Difficult to Grow Up in an Apocalypse: Children's and adolescents' experiences, perceptions and opinions on the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada

It’s Difficult to Grow Up in an Apocalypse: Children's and adolescents' experiences, perceptions and opinions on the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada

AUTHOR(S)
Heather L. Ramey; Heather L. Lawford; Yana Berardini; Sarah Caimano; Sarah Epp; Chantelle Edwards; Lisa Wolff

Published: 2022 Innocenti Research Report

According to children and youth in Canada, what were the negative and positive impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on their lives? How did they experience changes in their relationships; daily schedule; time at home; use of technology; or feelings of anger, worry, loneliness or gratitude? How were these experienced by marginalized groups, including LGBTQ+ and Indigenous children and youth?

To date, research on Canadian children’s and youth’s experiences during the pandemic has lacked a broad exploration of their own perspectives. This qualitative study, however, was informed by three child and youth advisory teams, with input from 10 focus groups; 23 semi-structured interviews and a total of 74 young people (10–19), from four provinces and one territory.

The report concludes with a set of 4 policy recommendations – by its participants – addressed to federal, provincial/territorial and local governments, as well as to school districts, and child and youth service sectors.

Best of UNICEF Research 2022

Best of UNICEF Research 2022

AUTHOR(S)
UNICEF Innocenti

Published: 2022 Miscellanea

Best of UNICEF Research showcases the most rigorous, innovative and impactful research produced by UNICEF offices worldwide. While evidence highlights emerging issues, it also informs decisions and provides policy and programme recommendations for governments and partners, to improve children's lives.

This year, Best of UNICEF Research celebrates its 10th edition. It features 12 research projects that the selection panel concurred deserved special recognition for delivering results for children in 2022. How? By informing decision-making, shaping policy, raising public awareness, driving social change, and giving children and young people a voice on the issues that affect them most through participatory research.

These endeavours showcase both the power of innovation in the face of emergency and crisis, and the virtues of agility, endurance and scalability. They also offer solutions and ways to learn from each other. Each piece of research offers a set of adaptable tools: validated methodologies; templates for emergency response plans; methods of monitoring and measuring progress; and examples of successful collaboration between stakeholders. 

 

Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Psychosocial Wellbeing Across the Life Course: Towards an Integrated Conceptual Framework for Research and Evidence Generation

Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Psychosocial Wellbeing Across the Life Course: Towards an Integrated Conceptual Framework for Research and Evidence Generation

AUTHOR(S)
Priscilla Idele; Manasi Sharma; Camila Perera Aladro; Prerna Banati; David Anthony

Published: 2022 Innocenti Working Papers

Mental health conditions affect about 1 in 7 adolescents globally. In the context of COVID-19, the importance of mental health and psychosocial support for all has been undoubtedly confirmed. Despite the increased attention to mental health issues, there is a dearth of evidence on what determines child and adolescent mental health, who is most at risk, and what works to foster mental health across contexts, cultures and distinct population groups.

This conceptual framework aims to inform research on child and adolescent mental health. It incorporates children’s developmental stages and the dynamic environment in which they live and grow. Informed by a review of existing theoretical frameworks on mental health and child development, this framework integrates elements of the socio-ecological model; the life course approach; the social determinants of health approach; and Innocenti Report Card’s Worlds of Influence Framework. Combining diverse aspects of these frameworks and approaches, we propose an integrated model to guide UNICEF’s research in this area. 

Rapid Review Protocol - Life in Lockdown: Child and adolescent mental health and well-being in the time of COVID-19

Rapid Review Protocol - Life in Lockdown: Child and adolescent mental health and well-being in the time of COVID-19

Published: 2021 Innocenti Working Papers

While there has been a global rush to generate rapid evidence on COVID-19 mental health impacts among adults, limited evidence exists on the potential impacts on children.

This is the protocol for our rapid review that seeks to (i) understand the immediate impact of COVID-19’s first wave on the mental health of children and adolescents (0–19 years); and (ii) apply lessons learned from this pandemic to mitigate the impacts of future health crises.

The key research questions of this review are: 

  • What has been the immediate impact of COVID-19 and associated containment measures on the mental health and psychosocial well-being of children and adolescents?
  • How and which risk and protective factors have affected mental health during COVID-19 and have they varied across subgroups of children and adolescents?

Children and COVID-19 Research Library Quarterly Digest Issue 1: Children and youth mental health under COVID-19

Children and COVID-19 Research Library Quarterly Digest Issue 1: Children and youth mental health under COVID-19

AUTHOR(S)
Priscilla Idele

Published: 2022 Innocenti Digest

The impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of children and youth has been near ubiquitous. Resilience factors are significant in enhancing and supporting mental health in the COVID-19 era. Our first COVID-19 Quarterly Thematic Digest presents research highlights from our growing Children and COVID-19 Research library.  

In this inaugural digest we spotlight 11 studies on mental health that were all generated in the first half of 2021. These research papers address an array of subjects related to the impact of COVID-19 on child and youth mental that include disorders such as anxiety, depression, suicide ideation and compulsive internet gaming, as well as risk factors such as HIV or refugee status, and responses such as art therapy and parenting and caregiver programmes. These studies have been undertaken in a range of countries and regions and include several multi-country analyses.

Worlds of Influence: Understanding What Shapes Child Well-being in Rich Countries

Worlds of Influence: Understanding What Shapes Child Well-being in Rich Countries

AUTHOR(S)
Anna Gromada; Gwyther Rees; Yekaterina Chzhen

Published: 2020 Innocenti Report Card

A new look at children from the world’s richest countries offers a mixed picture of their health, skills and happiness. For far too many, issues such as poverty, exclusion and pollution threaten their mental well-being, physical health and opportunities to develop skills. Even countries with good social, economic and environmental conditions are a long way from meeting the targets set in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Focused and accelerated action is needed if these goals are to be met.

The evidence from 41 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and European Union (EU) countries tells its own story: from children’s chances of survival, growth and protection, to whether they are learning and feel listened to, to whether their parents have the support and resources to give their children the best chance for a healthy, happy childhood. This report reveals children’s experiences against the backdrop of their country’s policies and social, educational, economic and environmental contexts.

Leading Minds Conference 2019: Healthy Minds, Healthy Futures. Summary report

Leading Minds Conference 2019: Healthy Minds, Healthy Futures. Summary report

Published: 2020 Miscellanea
On 7−9 November 2019 UNICEF convened its inaugural Leading Minds conference, taking the pressing issue of mental health of children and young people as its theme. The purpose of the annual Leading Minds conference series is to bring attention to a theme pertinent to the present and future wellbeing of the world’s children and young people by convening some of the world’s leading minds to examine available evidence and solutions and contribute to accelerating progress on solutions and breakthroughs.
Leading Minds 2019 was co-hosted with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Government of Italy, and brought together a diverse array of stakeholders from academia, youth leaders, foundations, government officials, UN agencies and civil society to discuss key challenges and opportunities on the conference theme and explore pathways to change the course.
Adolescents’ Mental Health: Out of the shadows. Evidence on psychological well-being of 11-15-year-olds from 31 industrialized countries

Adolescents’ Mental Health: Out of the shadows. Evidence on psychological well-being of 11-15-year-olds from 31 industrialized countries

AUTHOR(S)
Zlata Bruckauf

Published: 2017 Innocenti Research Briefs

Mental health is increasingly gaining the spotlight in the media and public discourse of industrialized countries. The problem is not new, but thanks to more open discussions and fading stigma, it is emerging as one of the most critical concerns of public health today. Psychological problems among children and adolescents can be wide-ranging and may include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), disruptive conduct, anxiety, eating and mood disorders and other mental illnesses. Consistent evidence shows the links between adolescents’ mental health and the experience of bullying. Collecting internationally comparable data to measure mental health problems among children and adolescents will provide important evidence and stimulate governments to improve psychological support and services to vulnerable children.

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