Mindfulness and youth: promoting mental health and mitigating risks associated with COVID-19
Updated: Sep 29, 2021
LINHA, in partnership with the Child Emotional Health Association (ASEC) and the promotion of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), is supporting the implementation and evaluation of the ASEC Toolbox program, a methodology based on Mindfulness and Socioemotional Learning to promote health and well-being. The project, which will benefit approximately 1000 Brazilian adolescents and young people in a socially vulnerable situation, aims to accommodate the mental health demands of our young population in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Covid-19 pandemic brought a new experimentation of social reality for Brazilian adolescents and young people with significant implications for physical and mental health, especially for the most vulnerable groups. International organizations of the United Nations System such as UNICEF, WHO, UNESCO also refer to risks related to school dropout and losses related to income and labor insertion. Epidemiological data prior to the pandemic, confirm a prevalence of 10% to 20% of mental disorders among children and adolescents (WHO). The challenges of this scenario now add to the effects of the new pandemic. Prolonged confinement and stressors associated with the current health emergency have implications for the physical and mental health of adolescents and young people. A recent study conducted in Brazil by CONJUVE with participants between 15 and 29 years old indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing damage to physical and emotional health, sleep quality, as well as financial and relationship impacts. A significant portion of young people also reported difficulties in dealing with remote education, administering their studies, impacting their future educational perspectives, with 28% of participants reporting considering not returning to educational activities after the end of social isolation. Data from U-Report, a relevant UNICEF initiative that makes use of social networks to encourage the participation of Brazilian youth and adolescents, indicates that 72% of respondents felt the need to request support regarding their physical and mental well-being during the Quarantine. However, approximately 41% of young people and adolescents did not use any support.
In this context, this project aims to support the construction of evidence-based intervention programs that support the formulation of public policies on mental health among young people and adolescents. Supported by a dialogical and participatory perspective, the ASEC Toolbox program is based on the concept of structured conversation wheels. Based on Mindfulness techniques and socio-emotional learning. Mindfulness-based interventions are gaining more and more space among children, adolescents and young people. Although recent, this approach has accumulated increasing evidence in promoting mental health and well-being, positively impacting social, emotional and cognitive skills. Studies indicate reduced levels of stress, anxiety and emotional reactivity, in addition to improved attention skills and executive functions among young people and adolescents. Positive effects are also reported on sleep quality and self-esteem. The ASEC Toolbox therefore aims to expand coping strategies and promote resilience with an impact on building youth networks for young people, thus mitigating risks associated with social vulnerability and COVID-19.