Approaches Supporting Mental Health Promotion

In addition to positive psychology, the following are some of the approaches supporting mental health promotion.

Positive Youth Development (PYD) reflects an area of study applying positive psychology to helping children and youth develop individual strengths and improve assets that help them to grow and flourish throughout life. Seligman (2002) proposed that positive youth development is fostered when youth are encouraged to participate in enjoyable activities that align 1 with their strengths within supportive environments. Larson (2000) emphasizes the development of initiative as a core quality of positive youth development and makes a case for participation in structured leisure activities (e.g. sports, arts, organized clubs) as an important context for such development. The importance of children’s participation in out-of-school leisure activities is central to the After School Leisure Coaching Program (see side tab). For more information, refer to FindYouthInfo.gov at http://www.findyouthinfo.gov/youth-topics/positive-youth-development.

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is a framework used to guide the process of helping children develop critical skills for life – how to get along with others, handle challenges, and behave ethically. Programs that foster SEL help children recognize feelings and think about how feelings influence behavior. Five core SEL skills are developed including: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. For more information, refer to the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) at www.casel.org.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a framework for promoting positive behavior by creating school environments that proactively encourage appropriate behavior and prevent problem behaviors. PBIS approaches are based on evidence-based behavioral interventions and are applied at a whole school level providing a continuum of strategies and supports at the universal levels (all students), targeted (for those at-risk), and intensive (for those with identified behavioral challenges). For more information, refer to the OSEP Technical Assistance Center on PBIS (www.pbis.org) and the Ohio PBIS (http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Other-Resources/School-Safety/Building-Better-Learning-Environments/PBIS-Resources).

1 Larson, R. W. (2000). Toward a psychology of positive youth development. American Psychologist, 55, 170–183.
2 Seligman, M. E. P. (2002). Authentic happiness. New York: Free Press