3.2 Fostering resilience
In recent years, the dominant approach to the promotion of young people’s mental and emotional wellbeing has been to seek ways of developing resilience and promoting the protective factors that might reduce young people’s vulnerability to mental health problems. An example of how these factors are applied in policy can be seen in the work of sociologist Simone Fullagar who examined policy responses to the high rates of suicide among young people in rural areas of Australia. Fullagar reported that policy focused on identifying risk factors such as previous suicide attempts, mental health problems and social isolation, and on promoting protective factors such as social connectedness, problem-solving skills, and readily available mental health services was valuable in supporting young people (Fullagar, 2005, p. 32).
The family therapist and professor of social work Michael Ungar and colleagues (2013) argues that it is important to not just focus on the child or young person and how they can be supported to develop resilience but also on how society can be changed to nurture and foster resilience and remove challenges and barriers that make some children and young people more vulnerable to adversity.
In the next activity, you’ll focus on protective factors and consider whether you could apply this knowledge to a young person you know.
Activity 7: The seven Cs of resilience
Watch this video – you’ll probably need to watch more than once – and work through steps 1 and 2 below.
Transcript: Video 4: The Seven Cs of Resilience: Dr. Ken Ginsburg introduces his Seven Cs of Resilience: Confidence, Competence, Connection, Character, Contribution, Coping, and Control. Content provided courtesy of the Center for Parent and Teen Communication, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. © 2018 The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Step 1: Pick out three or more ways in which you could apply these protective factors with a young person you know.
Step 2: Using the polling tool, vote for your favourite of the seven Cs, not just because it speaks most to you, but because it shows where you could develop your own competence as a parent or caregiving adult.
Resilient responses to all kinds of challenge can be of immense benefit to the young person and those close to them. Resilience in young people is achievable through everyday-sounding requirements such as:
‘a healthy human brain in good working order; close relationships with competent caring adults; committed families; effective schools and communities; opportunities to succeed; and beliefs in the self, nurtured by positive interactions with the world’ (Masten 2015, p.8).
Although it is difficult to imagine such all-round perfection, it can be comforting to know that resilience is not a mysterious quality that either people have or don’t have; resilience can be nurtured.
Next you consider how resilience can be fostered in schools.