Other Youth Topics

Developmental Competencies & Resilience

Mental health is not just the absence of a disease or mental health disorder, it is much more. As youth grow and mature, they achieve mental and emotional milestones. This process can be described as achieving developmental competence, or the ability to navigate social, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral tasks at different developmental stages. A part of achieving developmental competence is adhering to cultural and social norms and developing a positive sense of identity, efficacy, and well-being.1

Resilience and Positive Youth Development

The Positive Youth Development movement, with its roots in prevention, has focused on the development of mental health through its focus on the role of resiliency, the protective factors in a youth’s environment, and the role they play in a youth’s ability to deal with adversity. Much like mental health promotion, the positive youth development approach promotes enhancing youth strengths and positive outcomes through fostering healthy relationships and providing opportunities. Visit the positive youth development topic for more information.

Individual, family, school, and community characteristics also assist with healthy development.2


For the individual, positive development in adolescence includes the following:

  • Physical development
  • Intellectual development
  • Psychological and emotional development
  • Social development

Family, School, Community

For the family, school, and community, features of positive developmental settings include the following:

  • Physical and psychological safety
  • Appropriate structure
  • Supportive relationships
  • Opportunities to belong
  • Positive social norms
  • Support for efficacy and mattering (allowing youth to make useful contributions and feel like they make a difference)
  • Opportunities for building skills
  • Integration of family, school, and community efforts

1 Eccles & Gootman, 2009
2 Eccles & Gootman, 2002; Search Institute, 2006

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