What does One Good Adult mean?

What does One Good Adult mean?

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Launched in 2019, Jigsaw and UCD’s My World Survey 2 asked young people if there was a special adult in their lives. This was an adult they could turn to when they were in need.

76% of young people had at least one adult they could talk to when they needed support. Having this person in their lives was linked to better overall mental health.

What difference does One Good Adult make?

Young people who reported having one good adult tended to have:

  • Increased self-esteem
  • More success in school life
  • Better mental health
  • More likely to seek help
  • Less risk taking behaviours.

Not having One Good Adult was linked to higher levels of distress, anti-social behaviour and increased risk for suicidal behaviour. One Good Adults are crucial to helping young people do well and to flourish.

19 years-old
If I’m in trouble in my life, I don’t need to be rescued, or airlifted out of whatever crisis I’m in. I need someone to engage with me and help me grow through whatever I need to face.

What do One Good Adults do?

We did not explore the specifics of the One Good Adult in My World. Though over the years we asked young people and adults we work with what can One Good Adult do. They can help by:

  • Listening
  • Helping find solutions to problems
  • Accepting young people for who they are
  • Challenging them to push their boundaries and open their minds
  • Organising classes, homework, trips away, lunches
  • Just being there.

The One Good Adult is a good listener, is able to show empathy or put themselves in the shoes of the young person and understand their experience. They should be non-judgmental, which means no rolling of eyes, tutting or general disapproval.

The main tasks of the One Good Adult are to promote and support the mental health of the young person. Above all, they need to believe in that young person when they might not have much belief in themselves.

How can ‘One Good Adult’ support young people’s mental health?

Time and again, when we ask young people what made a difference helping them through tough times, they say having someone who listened to them. This gives them space to explore and grow, and was what helped them most.

Listening to young people, giving them time and space and not judging them, is key to being a One Good Adult.

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