“Youth as accessories”: Stakeholder Perspectives on Youth Participation in Mental Health Policymaking [Part II]

Yamaguchi, S., Tuong, J., Tisdall, E. K. M., Bentayeb, N., Holtom, A., Iyer, S. N., & Ruiz-Casares, M. (2022, novembre)

Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research

Vol. 50/issue 1 | 15 p.


To elicit stakeholder perspectives on the findings from our scoping review on youth participation in mental health policymaking, we conducted a global consultation with young people and adults directly involved in mental health policymaking.


Forty-four stakeholders from 16 countries, including 15 young people, 9 policymakers and 20 facilitators of youth participation, took part in individual interviews and/or focus groups. They were asked about how the review findings contrasted with their own experiences in mental health policymaking. The transcribed data were thematically analyzed.


All participants viewed lived experience as valuable in identifying policy gaps. Youth pointed out that children and youth with disabilities, diverse sexual orientations, and/or gender identities were often excluded, and spoke about feelings of being an “accessory”, illustrating a lack of power-sharing in a tokenized policymaking process. Adult participants’ accounts highlighted the challenges inherent in policymaking such as the need for political knowledge and institutional time constraints. A range of cultural, socio-economic, and political barriers to youth participation, that were often context-specific, were identified.


The diverse perspectives of stakeholders extended the review results. Based on our findings, we recommend that adults and institutions: (1) recognize lived experience as expertise in shaping mental health policies; (2) include diverse groups; (3) reduce tokenistic relationships through the creation of safer spaces, adult feedback, co-production, and social accountability; and (4) adopt an intersectional approach to address cultural, socio-economic, and political barriers to participation. Methodologically, our work demonstrates why stakeholder consultations are an essential component of scoping reviews.