Submitted by CAMH Resource Centre and Parent Action on Drugs (PAD)
Imagine two rubber balls: The first ball is properly inflated with no holes or cracks. If you throw it against a wall it makes a loud BOING!! and returns with the same force that you threw it with. Now imagine throwing a rubber ball that is partially deflated due to a small crack, allowing air to seep out of it slowly over time. If you throw that ball against the wall, it makes a dull thud and lands only a few feet from the wall. It might roll back to you but it will take much longer than the first ball. "Resilience involves being able to recover from difficulties or change – to function as well as before and then move forward. Many refer to this as "bouncing back" from difficulties or challenges" (CAMH, 2009).
When we – as parents, caregivers, service providers and communities – foster resilience in children and youth, we are helping that rubber ball stay inflated. Building protective factors makes sure those holes and cracks are fixed so that young people can face life challenges and bounce back.
Resiliency has been steadily gaining attention as an important aspect of mental health promotion/mental well-being for children and youth by health professionals, researchers, government ministries and programs (including the Healthy Communities Fund grant program). As an important aspect of mental well-being, promoting resilience in individuals and communities is an essential component for all mental health promotion programming. Although individuals across the life spectrum benefit from improved resilience, children and youth are particularly vulnerable to risk factors that may affect their ability to respond to adversity and stress.
There are a number of excellent resources on resilience that can help Healthy Communities and public health stakeholders (e.g.: health promoters, educators, programmers, planners, etc.) better understand and integrate strategies to promote resiliency in children and youth in mental health promotion programming.
Growing up Resilient: Ways to build resilience in children and youth, written by Drs. Tatyana Barankin and Nazilla Khanlou (CAMH, 2009), reviews the latest research and developments on resilience in children and youth in a way that is relevant for a diverse audience. This resource considers the development of resilience and risk and protective factors that affect young people at three levels:
- Individual factors: temperament, learning strengths, feelings and emotions, self-concept, ways of thinking, adaptive skills, social skills and physical health
- Family factors: attachment, communication, family structure, parent relations, parenting style, sibling relations, parents' health and support outside the family
- Environmental factors: inclusion (gender, culture), social conditions (socio-economic situation, media influences), access (education, health) and involvement. Tips on how to build resilience in children and youth follow each section.
Building Resilient Youth: Practical Tips for Helping your Teen Make Healthy Choices (PAD, 2011), is a brochure from Parent Action on Drugs aimed at parents and other significant adults in the lives of adolescents. It also addresses the individual, family and community risk factors that challenge youth, and gives specific tips on how to increase the protective factors in these areas. The brochure addresses substance use, mental health, gambling, internet gaming and gangs specifically. It is available for public health, education and other community workers to distribute to their parent audiences.
In partnership with HC Link, PAD and the CAMH resource centre is offering these resources free of charge. (Please see details below*).
For more information on each resource please click on the links below:
Growing up Resilient: Ways to build resilience in children and youth (CAMH): http://www.camh.net/Publications/Resources_for_Professionals/Growing_Resilient/index.html
Building Resilient Youth: Practical tips for helping your teen make healthy choices (PAD): http://www.parentactionondrugs.org/resources.php