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World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day Feature: Using A Data-Driven Research Agenda to Understand Adolescent Mental Health

The RD4C Program revisits a topic mapping of adolescent mental health

Posted on 10th of October 2022 by Andrew Zahuranec

October 10th is World Mental Health Day, an international effort coordinated by the World Health Organization to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world. Essential to this work is reaching out to children and adolescents and other vulnerable groups that may experience mental distress. Indeed, while half of all mental conditions manifest by early adolescence, there remains little data of the issues they face or an understanding of how data can inform efforts to respond to mental health.

As the Responsible Data for Children team returns from a week of work on the mental health and psychosocial challenges facing refugee children in Uganda, we feel it essential to step back and think about how we might map the larger field of child and adolescent mental health in a way that helps data-driven professionals prioritize topics.

In 2020, The GovLab undertook just this effort. Supported by the UNICEF’s Health and HIV team in the Division of Data, Analysis, Planning & Monitoring and the Data for Children Collaborative, The GovLab hosted two virtual workshops and coordinated with over 70 experts from around the world to understand what might be included in a constitute a consensus-based data and research agenda for adolescent mental health. The agenda focused on:

  • Systems-level aspects of mental health, how adolescent mental health affects and is affected by laws, power structures, and technological innovations;
  • Community-level aspects of mental health, how adolescent mental health affects and is affected by norms, attitudes, behaviors, and practices of society; and
  • Individual and family-level aspects of mental health, referring to the effect adolescent mental health has on individual people.

Adolescent Mental Health Topic MapRead the full-size map here.

We invite you to look through this topic map, linked above, or through our prior blog post or open-access research article explaining this agenda more in-depth. We believe this topic map provides a model for understanding the variety of challenges that adolescents face and can be used to inform data-driven research on the topic.

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