Child and Youth Mental Health Promotion in an International Context

One of the hallmarks of the Mental Health Promotion Innovation Fund (MHP-IF) is a focus on upstream determinants of mental health for children and youth: building protective factors and reducing risk factors at the individual, community, and structural levels. Yet upstream is not mainstream – yet! Professor Barry gives an international perspective on the evidence for upstream approaches, coupled with her leading-edge work on the implementation of these approaches.

Key messages

    • There is a need to reframe what constitutes positive mental health and how it can be promoted
    • More emphasis is needed on addressing social and other structural determinants of mental health
    • Mental health promotion works, we have the evidence to prove it, including a strong return on investment
    • The evidence base is useful if mental health promotion is implemented, with sufficient quality and sensitivity to contexts and cultures


    • Margaret Barry, Professor of Health Promotion and Public Health, National University of Ireland Galway

In the words of the speaker

We have to make a significant shift from a deficit model of illness to the health potential of young people and the health potential of the everyday settings where they live their lives. So, this brings a significant reframing of how we approach improving child and youth mental health. Margaret Barry

When we invest in these interventions and looking at the cost of doing that that the returns both financially and to society are quite significant. So, there is a good health economics argument for doing this and that is important when making the case to policy makers. Margaret Barry

For the successful implementation of evidence-based child and youth mental health promotion, we need supportive polices, practices, and research to make sure that they can be implemented to a high quality, and that they can be sustained. Margaret Barry

Resources related to this session


January 26, 2021