There is robust academic research on mental health needs among youth, with data indicating that suicide is one of the leading causes of death for those under the age of 15. However, the translation of this research into international development programming has been limited, especially in conflict-affected areas.
Through a buy-in activity under the YouthPower2: Learning and Evaluation contract, Making Cents International is designing a Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Toolkit for Youth Programming to help development practitioners understand how to better address the mental health needs of youth. This activity is funded by the USAID Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DCHA/DRG) Empowerment & Inclusion Division.
The toolkit will provide USAID staff and implementing partners with strategies and tools to design and implement mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) programs in low- and middle-income countries, both as standalone programs and integrated into youth-focused activities across multiple sectors. With a focus on youth in conflict-affected countries, the toolkit will contain a review of evidence-based MHPSS interventions, a framework for integrating MHPSS interventions into youth-focused programs, strategies for adapting indicators and measures to local contexts, and strategies to measure MHPSS-related outcomes in programs to assess the impact on youth. The toolkit will also provide common definitions and terminology to create a shared language around MHPSS interventions for USAID staff and partners.