Knowledge Synthesis of Relevant Spheres of Action for Promoting the Mental Health of Young Adults

The Institut national de santé publique du Québec has been mandated to prepare a knowledge synthesis for the Direction générale de la santé publique of the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux on reference points underpinning actions to enhance mental health, on life situations encountered during the passage to adulthood and the resources that can have a positive effect on the mental health, and on the relevant spheres of action to promote mental health in young adults. To do this, a literature review from scientific literature and from grey literature was conducted.

This allowed the identification of four reference points: looking at mental health as a concept distinct from mental disorders, focusing on helping each and every person reach their potential by building on their strengths instead of focusing on their problems, addressing the social determinants of mental health and their distribution, and adopting a life-course approach.

The literature reviewed also highlights that, while young adults are called upon to make individual choices and decisions about their life course, the directions taken are significantly influenced by the opportunities afforded by the structures and institutions around them. Young peoples’ life courses involve the interplay among multiple trajectories and transitions during which they may face challenges that influence mental health and their future life course. Young adults become autonomous, make choices about education and work and become citizens.

The review of the spheres of action shows that fostering and preserving the mental health of young adults involve a series of coordinated actions, at various levels, targeting the general population of young people, while taking into account their various needs. These actions must allow youth to have better control over their lives, to have access to material and social resources in their settings of daily life, and to be able to participate in economic and social life without facing discrimination or violence.

Lastly, several key findings and recommendations emerge from this literature review:

  1. Young adults have issues distinct from other age groups which must be reflected in policies, interventions and research.
  2. Promoting mental health in young adults requires adopting a holistic perspective based on their strengths and assets.
  3. Comprehensive approaches in young adults’ various daily settings must be supported to promote their mental health.
  4. Having youth participate in developing and implementing actions aimed at them must be encouraged.
  5. The development of competencies of professionals and managers that encourage a perspective of promoting young adults’ mental health must be supported
  6. Many interventions likely to affect mental health and reduce social inequalities in mental health should be the subject to a health impact assessment.
  7. Measuring positive mental health and the related factors is an emerging sphere of knowledge, whose development should be continued.
Mental health
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