Use a health promotion approach

A big part of helping youth take care of their health is helping them avoid risk-taking behaviours. It also means reducing risk of harm when they do engage in these behaviours. The first strategy many people think of when trying to promote young people’s health is to give them the facts about health issues and risky behaviours. Many people also think about building the living skills that help youth to avoid taking risks, such as refusal and negotiating skills. These are good strategies, but they are only one part of helping young people take care of their health.  

Young people also need environments that support their resilience, health, well-being and overall development. This is what supportive environments do:

  • Provide young people with access to needed services, supports, and resources.
  • Increase young people’s control over their behaviour and the factors that affect their health.
  • Provide opportunities for youth to participate in their community and to influence the things that affect their lives.

A health promotion approach is an effective strategy for helping young people to take care of their health and avoid risk-taking behaviours.  Such an approach builds personal knowledge and skills, while also creating supportive environments.

All young people can benefit from efforts to support and strengthen their mental health and to reduce risk-taking behaviour. This includes youth who are living with mental health problems/illnesses or have done so in the past. It also includes youth who have problems with substance misuse and tobacco use.

Documents sourced in this section can be found here.