The importance of rallying around young people

The importance of rallying around young people

Thursday, 19 November 2020

If you spend any time on Jigsaw.ie or our social channels, you’ll see plenty of references to One Good Adult.

One Good Adult

One Good Adult (OGA) refers to an adult who a young person can turn to if they are in need of support. The theme of One Good Adult emerged from the My World Survey, a national study of youth mental health. OGAs support young people in their life by listening to them, giving them time and space to open up and not judging them.

How to R.A.L.L.Y.

Jigsaw developed the R.A.L.L.Y. approach as a way One Good Adults can support young people’s mental health.

Through a consultation process in Jigsaw, a number of young people discussed the characteristics of One Good Adults that they found to be most helpful and supportive. As a result of this consultation, the R.A.L.L.Y. concept emerged. Young people discussed the value of their OGA:

  • Recognising signs of mental health difficulties. Noticing when the young person is in need of support, for example, noticing changes in their behaviour.
  • Acknowledging them and what they are dealing with. Acknowledging the situation the young person is in, and showing understanding towards them, rather than focusing on the problem.
  • Listening to them. Simply listening to the young person without giving advice or judging them.
  • Letting someone know. Knowing when to seek additional support to help the young person.
  • Your response. Staying calm, being prepared to hear anything, acknowledging the problem and focusing on strengths were all noted as being vital elements of OGA’s response to hearing a young person’s problems.
Young people noted the importance of their OGA simply listening to them without giving advice or judging them.

Take a look at this guide to the R.A.L.L.Y. approach, which was developed with some of our Youth Advisors and One Good Adults in our Jigsaw network:

Adolescents who received high levels of support from their OGA were more likely to be in the normal range for depression and anxiety.

The importance of One Good Adult in a young person’s life

The findings of the My World Survey 2 highlighted the importance of the presence of OGA in relation to young people’s mental health and wellbeing. Adolescents who received high levels of support from their OGA were more likely to be in the normal range for depression and anxiety. They also displayed higher levels of life satisfaction, self-esteem, body esteem, family cohesiveness, personal competence and optimism.

To the contrary, young people who perceived low levels of support from adults in their lives were more likely to experience alcohol dependence and/or avoidance based coping strategies. Overall, the findings from My World Survey 2 emphasize that the presence of OGA is a key protective factor for young people’s mental health.

It takes a community…

Although the benefits to a young person of having One Good Adult in their life may seem obvious, there is plenty more evidence to back it up. An ecological systems approach highlights the impact of the relationships that young people have with the adults in their lives. It also emphasises the significance of the different areas of young people’s lives, for example their home, school, community and the wider society that they are living in.

A whole community approach to resilience has been recommended by researchers. School, family and community partnerships have been identified as important protective factors, as they provide opportunities for young people to have meaningful involvement in their communities

Whether you are a parent, teacher, coach or community leader, you have a role to play in supporting the mental health of young people in your life.

You may also like