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Prevention: Some Best Practices and Courses of Action

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Some practices have been found to be effective in promoting mental health and in preventing the onset of mental disorders in children and adolescents. Here are a few examples:

Develop PERSONAL AND SOCIAL SKILLS. General competencies have a protective effect on mental health. Here are the ones to focus on when promoting positive mental health in children and adolescents:

Managing emotions and stress

Refers to the ability of a youth to deal with stressful and difficult situations.

  1. Recognition of emotions and stress (physical manifestations, facial and verbal expressions)
  2. Vocabulary of emotions to properly express what is felt: anger, sadness, joy, fear
  3. Sources of emotions and stress: loss, conflict, injustice, good news, transition, grief, an important event
  4. Consequences of emotions and stress: isolation, withdrawal, anxiety, aggressivity, difficulty concentrating, physical symptoms, etc
  5. Simple stress management techniques, coping strategies

Asking for help for yourself or others

Refers to the actions to take when a youth or someone in their circle finds themself in a situation where the demands exceed their
own limits.

  1. Identifying situations that require a request for help
  2. Recognizing what must
    be done and what you can
    ne peut pas faire (reconnaître sesand cannot do (recognizing your
    own limits)
  3. Barriers to asking for help
  4. Searching for relevant information based on the situation, consulting appropriate resources

Conflict management

Know and apply various strategies to resolve differences and understand the limits to resolving the conflict (when you are unable to reach a compromise)

  1. Respect differences
  2. Use “I” when communicating
  3. Perception of romantic relationships
  4. Power and authority
  5. The art of negotiating


Self-knowledge is not a skill in the true sense of the word, but it is so crucial to the development of all other skills that it must be taken into consideration. It is important for the young person to know what characterizes them:

  1. Their physical characteristics
  2. Their body image
  3. Their tastes and interests
  4. Their feelings and emotions
  5. Their talents and skills
  6. Their qualities and flaws
  7. Their expectations
  8. Their limits

Problem resolution

Know the coping strategies that allow you to be more objective about stressful or difficult situations and your emotions:

  1. De-dramatize the situation
  2. Re-evaluate the situation in a positive
  3. Get another trusted point of view
  4. Use ways to avoid the risks associated with alcohol or drug use and gambling

Know the steps to follow to resolve a problem:

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Identify possible solutions
  3. Compare each of the solutions
  4. Choose a solution and try it
  5. Evaluate the results

Improve KNOWLEDGE AND COMPREHENSION AMONG YOUTH AND THEIR MILIEU about mental health to be able to better prevent, recognize and treat it as well as to reduce the stigma and discrimination against people with mental health disorders.

  • Demystify mental health and mental health disorders
  • Interrelationships between mental health, physical health, positive and equal relationships, ability to adapt to stress and to transitions
  • Individual and environmental risk factors (e.g., stressful and difficult situations, social exclusion, negative thoughts)
  • Protective factors (e.g., adaptation strategies, self-esteem, education, support from family and friends, healthy lifestyle, use of available services)

Collaborate in the CREATION OF ENVIRONMENTS FAVOURABLE TO MENTAL HEALTH. The places where young people are developing have an influence on their mental health.
For example

  • Improve the educational climate:
  1. Provide young people with the possibility of exploring various fields of interest
  2. Help students profit from their personal resources and encourage their engagement (e.g., involvement of young people in various projects that will not be marked, such as the health and wellbeing committee, the schoolyard renewal committee, etc.)
  3. Establish warm connections with students, for example, by taking time to greet them before starting an activity
  4. Promote the inclusion and integration of all the young people. Adopt an attitude of openness to individual differences of any kind
  5. In collaboration with students, develop school rules or a fair and equitable code of conduct, establish consequences for non-compliance, and share the information in a way that ensures ownership
  6. Improve the school’s physical environment so that it is safe, pleasant, clean and makes learning easier (beware of too many visual stimuli, reduce ambient noise, etc.)
  • In collaboration with the young people, provide sports, artistic and cultural activities that are stimulating and attractive and respond to the interests and needs of the youth outside of class time.

  • Improve services to youth and their families by facilitating access to appropriate assistance and by providing clear and consistent information about resources and opportunities for social and emotional support
  • Support parents:
  1. Encourage parent involvement by keeping parents informed and inviting them to participate in school life (e.g., volunteer opportunities, mentoring or tutoring, participating in classroom instruction, collaborating in providing support services to students, etc.)
  2. Advise and equip parents regarding promotion of their children’s mental health
  3. Provide programs, training sessions or workshops organized by the school or by community groups to support parents in fulfilling their role.
  4. Refer parents to the proper resources when needed


  • Institut national de santé publique du Québec, Avis scientifique sur les interventions jugées efficaces en promotion de la santé mentale et en prévention des troubles mentaux (Quebec national institute of public health, Scientific advice on effective mental health promotion and mental disorder prevention interventions), 2008.
  • Institut national de santé publique du Québec, Le développement des enfants et des adolescents dans une perspective de promotion de la santé et de prévention en contexte scolaire (Child and adolescent development from a health promotion and prevention perspective in the school context), 2017
  • Institut national de santé publique du Québec, Les savoirs à développer par année scolaire au préscolaire, primaire et secondaire (Knowledge to be developed by grade in preschool, elementary and secondary school), 2017
  • Institut national de santé publique du Québec, Réussite éducative, santé, bien-être: agir efficacement en contexte scolaire (Educational success, health and well-being: effective action in the school context), 2010

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