26 April 2023
Fostering Youth Leadership in MHPSS Responses: A Collaborative Research Journey
In the ever-evolving landscape of humanitarian emergencies, incorporating youth leadership into mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) responses has become vital. With a keen understanding of the significance of youth-driven initiatives, we are excited to introduce an innovative research project that aspires to establish a practical framework and systematic methodology for strengthening youth leadership in MHPSS responses during humanitarian crises. This project aligns with the MHPSS Collaborative’s youth participation and leadership strategy , which emphasizes the importance of capacity strengthening for youth and creating opportunities for them to meaningfully engage in addressing mental health and well-being challenges in their communities.
The MHPSS Collaborative’s Youth Participation and Leadership Strategy
The MHPSS Collaborative’s strategy focuses on meaningful engagement, participation, and leadership of young people in MHPSS program development, advocacy, and research. The strategy’s guiding principles, such as co-creation, networking, multisectoral approach, and sustainability, underline the importance of working with young people to co-create innovative programming and solutions that address mental health challenges. By connecting young people to larger networks and opportunities, the strategy aims to amplify their voices and strengthen their capacity to be more confident and effective contributors in their communities.
A Partnership for Change
This research endeavor is a collaboration between the Geneva Graduate Institute and the MHPSS Collaborative. Three graduate students, guided by academic tutors from the Geneva Graduate Institute and supported by the MHPSS and Youth Engagement Advisor at the MHPSS Collaborative, are undertaking the project. This unique alliance unites academic proficiency with hands-on experience to tackle a crucial gap in the MHPSS sector.
Unveiling the First in a Series of Blogs
As a testament to our dedication to engaging stakeholders and fostering transparency, this blog marks the beginning of a series that will chronicle the research and guidance development process. In each blog, we will delve into the methods, processes, and lessons learned in conducting research looking at the integration of youth leadership in MHPSS responses. Additionally, we will discuss the creation of an accountability framework designed to ensure that the MHPSS sector remains answerable to the young people it serves.
The Significance of Youth Leadership in MHPSS
The potential benefits of engaging young people in MHPSS response planning and implementation are often underestimated and ignored. However, young individuals bring invaluable insights, resilience, and creativity to the table, making them essential catalysts for positive change during humanitarian emergencies. By capitalizing on the unique perspectives of youth, humanitarian interventions can become more localized, relevant, and sustainable. Nevertheless, the potential benefits of engaging young people in MHPSS response planning and implementation are often underestimated and ignored.
Our Research Objective and Methodology
The primary goal of this research project is to establish a systematic approach and practical framework that allows the MHPSS sector to better comprehend and identify successful practices, prerequisites, and necessary adaptations for reinforcing and integrating youth leadership in MHPSS responses during humanitarian crises. This goal aligns with the MHPSS Collaborative’s strategy to decrease asymmetries of power between adults and young people in the sector.
To accomplish this goal, our research methodology encompasses an extensive literature review to analyze existing frameworks, guidelines, and research on integrating youth leadership in MHPSS responses. We will also conduct virtual focus group discussions with young people from various regions to collect firsthand insights on priorities for the guidance document. Additionally, key informant interviews with experts, practitioners, funders, and policymakers will be carried out to understand the challenges, opportunities, and expectations related to integrating youth leadership in MHPSS responses. Lastly, theme-based online workshops will be held to co-create a practical framework for integrating youth leadership into MHPSS responses in humanitarian emergencies.
The Anticipated Outcomes
Through our research, we aim to achieve the following outcomes:
- A comprehensive understanding of the challenges, opportunities, and best practices in integrating youth leadership in MHPSS responses during humanitarian crises.
- A practical framework for strengthening and incorporating youth leadership in MHPSS responses that is co-created with young people, experts, practitioners, and policymakers, reflecting diverse perspectives and experiences.
- A well-defined accountability mechanism that ensures the MHPSS sector remains answerable to the young people it serves and adheres to the established framework.
- Enhanced awareness and appreciation of the importance of youth leadership in MHPSS responses among stakeholders, leading to increased prioritization and integration of youth-driven initiatives in the sector.
Join Us on This Journey
As we commence this research project, we invite you to follow our progress and engage with us through this blog series. We believe that by collaborating and sharing our findings, we can have a significant impact on the lives of young people in humanitarian emergencies and enable them to become agents of change in MHPSS responses.