Assessing the impacts of the Agenda Gap intervention for youth mental health promotion through policy engagement: a study protocol Jenkins, Emily; Haines-Saah, Rebecca; McGuinness, Liza; Hirani, Saima; Boakye-Yiadom, Noah; Halsall, Tanya; Rivers, Robert; Morris, Jonathan
Background Mental health challenges are a leading health concern for youth globally, requiring a comprehensive approach incorporating promotion, prevention and treatment within a healthy public policy framework. However, the broad enactment of this vision has yet to be realized. Further, mental health promotion evidence specific to youth is still emerging and has not yet focused at a policy level. This is a critical gap, as policy is a key mental health promotion lever that can alter the social and structural conditions that contribute to shaping youth mental health outcomes for all youth, across the full spectrum of need. Responsive to this research and intervention priority, our prototype study intervention—the Agenda Gap—is comprised of an innovative, multi-media engagement intervention, developed in collaboration with youth. This intervention aims to equip youth and build capacity for them to lead meaningful policy change reflective of the mental health needs of diverse communities of youth, including those who experience structural vulnerability and who would not typically have had their voice represented in policymaking processes. Methods This study will use a multiple case study design and mixed methods grounded in a realist approach and will be conducted in three sites across two Canadian provinces (British Columbia and Alberta). In an earlier phase of this research, we collaboratively designed the prototype intervention with youth, community and policy partners. In this phase of the study, the intervention will be implemented and further tested with new groups of youth collaborators (n = 10–15/site). Outcome data will be collected through realist qualitative interviews, validated questionnaires [i.e., Child and Youth Resilience Measure (CYRM-12), General Self-Efficacy (GSE) Scale, and the Critical Consiousness Scale (CCS)] and additional survey items developed by our study team. Analysis will focus on identification of key context-mechanism-outcome configurations to provide comprehensive insights into how this intervention works, for whom, and in what context. Discussion This study is unique in its “upstream” focus on youth-engaged policymaking as a tool for improving the social and structural conditions that influence youth mental health across socioecological levels. Through the implementation and testing of the Agenda Gap intervention with diverse youth, this study will contribute to the evidence base on youth-engaged policymaking as a novel and innovative, mental health promotion strategy.
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