A review of effective youth engagement strategies of mental health and substance use interventions.


Dunne T, Bishop L, Avery S, Darcy S. (2017). A review of effective youth engagement strategies for mental health and substance use interventions. Journal of Adolescent Health. 60(5): 487-512. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2016.11.019

Researchers reviewed the engagement strategies used in successful mental health and substance use interventions to engage adolescents and young adults (aged 11-29 years). Six overarching strategies emerged. (1) Successful interventions involved youth with intervention development. Levels of youth involvement varied in the included studies, but the results suggested that a full participatory model of program development had the greatest effects. (2) Successful programs involved parents and other family members with the intervention. Results indicated that parental support is most effective in interventions when it is warm, trusting, and close. (3) Successful interventions used technology as a part of the intervention. Technology supported interventions were the most effective when they involved face-to-face interactions. (4) Successful interventions involved health care providers and (5) schools. (6) Successful interventions used social marketing, but researchers advised against interventions that use social marketing in isolation with no additional support from a prevention or treatment program. Results suggest that using multiple methods of engagement may be more effective than single strategies for engaging young people in interventions.