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Archive for the 'Youth and wellbeing' Category

Youth mobility webinar series week 5: Young Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers in the UK

By UCL Global Youth, on 21 April 2021

To view a recording of this webinar, visit our Youtube channel.

On Tuesday 1st June, 2021, 12 noon UK time. Register for this event on Eventbrite.

The fifth and final webinar in this series focuses on the distinct mobility experiences of young unaccompanied asylum seekers and the challenges they face after they arrive in the UK.

Dr Elaine Chase and Dr Rachel Rosen seek to understand youth mobilities (and immobilities) within the context of violent and discriminatory immigration systems and structures which also shape largely restrictive welfare regimes.  They argue that the most urgent issues we need to understand are not the factors driving young people to move/stay, but rather their experiences of and interactions with immigration and welfare systems and structures once they arrive in the UK/Europe. COVID-19 has added another layer of complexity to all this (impacting on access to asylum procedures/ justice/rights etc).  In such contexts, aspirations frequently become collective endeavours to reshape the immigration/welfare landscape through collective voice and forms of advocacy.

Presentation 1: Lives on Hold our Stories Told (LOHST): Unaccompanied migrant young people’s perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 on their lives and wellbeing

Dr Elaine Chase, UCL Institute of Education

Previous work has shown how the wellbeing outcomes of unaccompanied migrant young people arriving in the UK, particularly as they make the transition to institutional ‘adulthood’ at 18, are structured by complex immigration, social care and related policies.  Hence, vulnerabilities in the context of mobility and migration are fundamentally politically-induced (Chase and Allsopp 2020).  COVID- 19 has added another layer of complexity to the lives of young people seeking the right to remain in the UK and build their futures here.  This presentation will capture the approach and early findings from a peer-research study into the impact of COVID-19 on young people’s access to legal and social support and on their lives more generally- LOHST. It illustrates how contexts of ‘crisis’ can be generative of endeavours to reshape the immigration/ welfare landscape through collective voice and advocacy.

About the author: Elaine Chase is an Associate Professor in Education, Health Promotion and International Development at UCL Institute of Education. Elaine’s teaching and research focus on the sociological dimensions of health, wellbeing and rights of individuals and communities, particularly those most likely to experience marginalisation and exclusion. Elaine is particularly interested in the interface between policy, practice and context. Current research focuses on the wellbeing outcomes of children, young people and families subject to immigration control and on educational wellbeing in contexts of mass displacement.

Presentation 2: ‘Between waithood and alternative futures: children and young people on the move’

Dr Rachel Rosen, UCL Social Research Institute

Accounts of children and young people young people who have come to the UK on their own through precarious migration routes have aptly demonstrated that their futures are held hostage by a restrictive migration regime. Prolonged periods of uncertain waithood for regularised status, combined with anti-migrant sentiments in the UK’s hostile environment, can foreclose imaginaries of the future in what anthropologist Nicolas De Genova refers to as an ‘enforced presentism’.

In this paper, I do not dispute the detrimental effects of restrictive migration regimes on the futures of separated child migrants. Instead, in thinking with research data from Children Caring on the Move (CCoM), I seek to complicate such understandings. Heeding recent warnings not to collapse migrants into the temporality of waithood or futureless lives where regularised status in a national order is the route to a stable future, I attend to young migrants’ care for and about others while they wait. Doing so, I argue, provides insights not only into waithood and its afterlife, but reorients conceptualisations of young people’s future to the uneven possibilities and practices for imagining and constructing alternative futures.

About the author: Rachel Rosen is an Associate Professor at the UCL Social Research Institute. Her research focuses on the intersections of unequal childhoods, social reproduction, and migration in neoliberal border regimes. She co-leads the ESRC-funded Children Caring on the Move project.

This series is hosted by the UCL Centre for Global Youth and co-organised by Dr. Avril Keating (Director of the Centre), Dr Sazana Jayadeva (University of Cambridge) and Rachel Benchekroun (UCL-IOE). The series is funded by IOE International.

Mental health and wellbeing after humanitarian emergencies: what do we know about support programmes for children and young people in low- and middle-income countries?

By UCL Global Youth, on 6 November 2017

To celebrate Humanitarian Evidence Week (6-12th November), we have a guest blog post by Kelly Dickson and Mukdarut Bangpan, EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education

Figure 1_v2The United Nations Children’s Fund estimate that a quarter of the world’s children are living in countries affected by conflict or natural disasters. We know that these events can have a long-term impact on children’s and young people’s mental health and psychosocial wellbeing, and while many programmes have been designed to support children and young people dealing with the consequences, our knowledge of what works and why is still developing. To address this gap, Oxfam and the Feinstein International Center humanitarian evidence programme, commissioned us, as part of a wider review, to draw together a synthesis of outcome evaluations from across the world to gain a view of research effort in this area. Our review sought to capture the full range of approaches taken to provide mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) for children and young people (CYP) in countries affected by conflict or natural disasters, and the outcomes they seek to improve.

What did we find?
We found that evaluations of MHPSS programmes for children and young people are still relatively new with few conducted before 2004, and most appearing in the last five years. A rich diversity of approaches are currently being tested for their efficacy, measuring a wide range of outcomes. For example, programmes might incorporate trauma-focused approaches e.g. using psychological techniques tailored to meet the needs of CYP experiencing emotional and psychological difficulties or take a strength-based approach, focusing on CYP’s individual resilience and family and social networks to develop positive coping strategies.

Common psychotherapeutic modalities such as cognitive behaviour therapy or narrative exposure therapy were most likely to address and measure mental health outcomes such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, functioning or anxiety. They also measured psychosocial outcomes such as pro-social behaviours (e.g. actions which benefit someone other than yourself) and, less frequently, hope and resilience. Psychosocial programmes were similarly ambitious in their aims, measuring a range of both mental health and psychosocial outcomes.

Figure 1 Types of programmes and outcomes measured

figure 2_v2

Of the 45 MHPSS programmes identified in our review, many took advantage of whole-school or classroom-based settings to deliver programmes to children and young people in groups rather than 1:1 settings. Although not possible to outline each programme in detail, two case examples, indicative of the need for support, programme components and outcomes measured in the field, are provided below:

MHPSS after the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan province, China
A large number of young people were exposed to the harrowing events of the 2008 earthquake in the Sichuan province, China. Many of those who survived showed signs of being extremely fearful and anxious and went on to develop psychological problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. In 2010, a short-term (six sessions) group cognitive behaviour programme was designed to support adolescents, who had lost one or both parents, manage trauma-based fears and negative thought patterns. The programme aimed to teach young people relaxation techniques and imagination skills, such as finding a ‘safe place’ in their mind. They were also supported to cope with intrusive flashbacks through guided meditation and nightmares through dream intervention exercises.

The programme needed to be adapted from the original manual (‘Children and Disaster: Teaching Recovery Techniques’, initially developed by the Norway, Foundation for Children and War) to ensure it was suitable to a Chinese context. Firstly, by removing exploration of avoidance behaviours, as they are often viewed as important adaptive strategies, to help people cope with change. Secondly by including the use of culturally specific examples of how to view events, ideas and emotions in a more positive way (cognitive re-framing). The aim of the programme was not only to ameliorate symptoms of PTSD and depression, but also to provide young people with the psychological resilience to recover and thrive as they made the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

MHPSS in conflict-affected contexts
War affected communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo continue to live under constant threat of attack and/or abduction by militia operating in the region. Growing up in armed conflict settings can destabilise familial relations and lead to emotional and behavioural difficulties in children and young people. To improve CYP’s mental health and psychosocial outcomes, (such as PTSD, conduct problems, prosocial behaviours) a family focused, community-based psychosocial intervention was designed for children aged 7–18. Programme activities included: psychoeducation about the impact of war, a life skills leadership course, relaxation techniques and mental imagery exercises, effective communication and conflict resolution skills and short video clips to address discrimination and stigma towards former child soldiers who had returned to the community.

Programmes activities were adapted to be culturally familiar to the local population by using culturally familiar songs, games and rituals, and drawing on local cultural and spiritual beliefs about how to address MHPSS well-being. The programme was also highly relational, focusing on building positive and trusting relationships with young people and enhancing community ties. Programme providers sought to encourage positive family interactions and community acceptance through these approaches to help mediate and improve the mental health and psychosocial of war affected youth.

Theory as a missing link
However, despite these efforts to build an empirical evidence base, studies commonly lack an explicit description of the programme theory underpinning their design. Further theorisation on the links between programme aims and focus, choice of programme components, delivery and anticipated mechanisms for improving outcomes for CYP could provide a more nuanced understanding of how and why MHPSS may or may not work. This programme theorization could also benefit from an understanding of how characteristics of young people, such as age, gender or other individual or social characteristics also interact with and mediate the impact of programmes in natural disaster and war affected settings.

HEW Logo V2How did we get these findings?

We conducted a comprehensive search of 12 bibliographic databases and 25 websites. We included studies published in English from 1980 onwards, if they delivered MHPSS programmes to one group of children in LMIC and compared their findings against another group of children who did not participate in a programme. To find out more about the systematic review and evidence on the effectiveness of programmes, please see the evidence summary of the full report here.


The research was funded by The Humanitarian Evidence and Communications Programme (HEP), a partnership between Oxfam and the Feinstein International Center, Tufts University on behalf of the Department for International Development. To find out more about the systematic review and evidence on the effectiveness of programmes, please see the evidence summary of the full report.


Adolescent Lives: Cross-disciplinary, cross-national and critical perspectives on youth and wellbeing

By UCL Global Youth, on 21 September 2017

A cross-disciplinary conference co-organised by the Centre for Global Youth and the Great Ormond Street Institute for Child Health, University College London.

This one-day conference will take place on 12th December 2017, at the UCL-Institute of Education. The main aim of the event is to bring together researchers from neuro-science, health sciences, and social sciences to examine a common challenge (how do we ensure the wellbeing of adolescents in diverse contexts?) from different disciplinary perspectives.

To facilitate a cross-disciplinary conversation, we are adopting a broad definition of wellbeing, so that it includes not just physical health or mental health, but also social, political and/or economic wellbeing (and the challenges youth face in attaining these types of wellbeing). Many of these different facets of young lives are interlinked, but their connections are not necessarily fully understood.

In addition to exploring different dimensions of wellbeing, we will also highlight how the risks to adolescent wellbeing vary in different contents and for different sub-samples of youth. ‘Risk’ means very different things for Middle Class girls in the Global North, young men in gangs, and young people in developing or conflict-ridden societies. This event will thus shed light on the diversity of risks, but we also seek to identify any common concerns that can help us to work across disciplines and cases.

Call for papers: If you would like to present a paper at this event, please send a short abstract (250 words) to Avril Keating (a.keating@ucl.ac.uk) by 5th October 2017. (Please also include your name, title, institutional affiliation, and email address in your attachment).

We are particularly interested in hearing from scholars that are researching the follow topics:

– Adolescent physical and mental health

– The impact of digital technologies/ social media

– Youth politics in times of division and conflict

– The challenges of researching youth wellbeing

– Youth attitudes towards their future wellbeing

– Gender and wellbeing

Registration: This event is free and open to all, but spaces are limited and pre-registration is required. To register, simply RSVP via Eventbrite by 24th November 2017.

To find out more, contact Dr Avril Keating (a.keating@ucl.ac.uk), subscribe to the CGY mailing list, or follow us on Twitter, @uclglobalyouth.

This event is sponsored by UCL Grand Challenges Programme (Human Wellbeing strand), the Department of Education, Practice and Society and Great Ormond Street Institute for Child Health.

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