Our Scientific Basis
Why We Address Generation Z
Adolescence is a time of changes – changes to the body, the brain, the environment. It is a key period where adolescents try to juggle the development of their own identity while wanting to be accepted by their peers. In this crucial period, young people are especially vulnerable to mental health problems. Most mental illnesses manifest before the age of 25 (Solmi et al., 2022).
According to several studies, the coronavirus pandemic has increased the psychological strain on youth. Adolescents and young adults have experienced the strongest decrease in mental wellbeing (Bosshard et a., 2021; Pro Juventute, 2021, S. 3; Schuler et al., 2022). Since the beginning of the pandemic, reported mental stress among youth more than doubled (Schuler et al., 2022). Psychiatric hospitalisations and suicide attempts of children and adolescents have been steadily increasing (Schuler et al., 2022). To make matters worse, stigma towards people with mental illness can be widespread in adolescents (Watson et al., 2005), and young people are particularly unlikely to seek help when experiencing crises or feeling suicidal (Barrense-Dias et al., 2014; Buess & Vogel, 2021).
This is why it is important to raise awareness about mental health amongst our youth.
Why We Use Peer-Based Storytelling
TED Talks are a good example that a story told by a person is still one of the most meaningful and relatable form of communication. Studies confirm that in-person contact with individuals who have been affected by mental illness themselves, combined with educational elements, is the most effective intervention in reducing mental-illness stigma in youth (Corrigan et al., 2012; Koller & Stuart, 2016; Yamaguchi et al., 2011). This is why our ambassadors use their own experience with mental health and illness to lay the ground for raising awareness. By sharing their personal story, they actively reduce stigmatisation of mental illnesses and encourage active help-seeking behaviour.
Positive role models are important in reducing stigma in youth since there is a lack of positive examples in the media as well as in books, films, and TV series. Role models are especially inspiring and persuasive if they are similar to the audience (Bruchmann & Evans, 2018; Millon & Lerner, 2003). This is why our visits are done by young people for young people.
To guarantee a high and professional standard in our school visits, our ambassadors use well-researched and nationally-acclaimed material and are accompanied by a mental health professional. Our work ensures that every adolescent understands that it’s okay not to be okay and that talking about mental health is the first step to recovery.