Protective Factors: Youth Risk Kryptonite

For as much time as professionals spend screening and addressing risk factors in youth, the same is not always given to identifying youth protective factors, with one of the most important being identifying a trusted adult. These two factors—risk and protective—play major roles in the health and wellbeing of youth. By using a screening tool that includes risk AND protective factors, like RAAPS, professionals can help get a clearer picture of how and why youth may be struggling and who they can turn to for support.

As stated on Youth.gov:

“The presence or absence and various combinations of protective and risk factors contribute to the mental health of youth. Identifying protective and risk factors in youth may guide the prevention and intervention strategies to pursue with them. Protective and risk factors may also influence the course mental health disorders might take if present.”

In fact, data reveals youth with a trusted adult in their lives (a key protective factor) report significantly fewer mental health related concerns and that having meaningful connections to trusted adults is critical for positive youth development. Typically, those trusted adults are parents, but in many cases, youth benefit from relationships with other adults to either supplement or substitute relationships with their parents. Youth are often more comfortable discussing sensitive topics with someone other than a parent.

Being that trusted adult is Step 1, knowing how to talk effectively with you about risk is Step 2 and takes specialized skills. A professional skilled in motivational interviewing (MI) can create an environment that provides youth the opportunity to disclose information about their risk, guide them in making healthy decisions, and improve their motivation to do so. Moreover, literature shows that when a standardized, youth-specific screening tool is used in combination with coaching (discussion of risk behaviors using MI), it will increase the identification of risky behaviors, facilitate communication between youth and professionals, and improve outcomes. Learn more in our recent white paper.

Equip your staff with a screening tool that identifies protective factors and the MI skills to provide effective risk reduction coaching. Possibilities for Change is now offering our evidence-based MI workshops in a live virtual format. Our Zoom-powered live virtual workshops support effective adult learning by providing a dynamic and engaging experience for participants, with real life examples, breakout group practice and interactive activities, even while social distancing. Schedule a call with us today to learn more.

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