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Mental Health Literacy: A Strategy for Global Adolescent Mental Health Promotion


Caroline S. Clauss-Ehlers*, Maria Guevara Carpio and Mark D. Weist   Pages 1 - 11 ( 11 )


Background: Adolescence is defined and key transitional elements are considered within a cross-cultural context. The importance of building mental health capacity for adolescents in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) as well as high income countries (HICs) is reviewed.

Objectives: Review the developmental period of adolescence, global needs for mental health promotion for them, emphasizing the needs of LMICs and the importance of mental health literacy efforts.

Methods: Mental health literacy (MHL) is presented as a strategy that can increase the public’s awareness of mental health issues among adolescents. Increased awareness through an MHL framework is discussed as a way to build adolescent mental health capacity, with this work ideally occurring through global communities of practice (COP) promoting dialogue, collaboration and mutual support to build innovation in systems of mental health promotion.

Results: The authors review structural components in research, practice, and policy that seek to build global adolescent mental health capacity, nested within COPs involving higher income nations and LMICs working together to advance mental health promotion for children, adolescents, and young people.

Conclusion: The article concludes with a discussion of how the three structural components (i.e., research, practice, and policy) can address gaps in the provision of global mental health services for adolescents to meet adolescent mental health needs in LMICs and HICs. A multi-sectoral approach emphasizing a global COP is presented as a way to scale up capacity and maximize outcomes.


Adolescent mental health, adolescence, international mental health, building capacity


Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, The University of South Carolina

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