The UPRIGHT project aims to create a culture of mental well-being for adolescents, their families, and the educational community.
During adolescence, teenagers have the chance to acquire different abilities and strategies that will help them better understand themselves, their families, their future, and society. Learning these abilities will increase their resilience levels, while applying them to their lives will enable them to face, adapt or recover from the stress caused by adverse experience, thus maintaining a positive mental health. In this stage of life, families and the educational community develop an essential role in the promotion of mental well-being. Families, in addition to providing support and security to help their children develop their full potential to achieve a better mental and physical health. Educational centres provide a unique location to implement universal plans to promote resilience and create an environment of mental well-being for the entire educational community.
The exceptional situation produced by COVID-19 has exposed adolescents to new risk factors challenging their mental health. Social isolation and feelings of loneliness can have repercussions on an educational, emotional and behavioural level, among others. Reinforcing and promoting resilience in younger generations is more necessary than ever to face this unprecedented situation.
The UPRIGHT European project, “Universal Preventive Resilience Intervention Globally implemented in schools to improve and promote mental Health for Teenagers”, seeks to promote mental well-being and prevent mental disorders among adolescents by increasing their resilience. UPRIGHT has developed a psycho-educational programme with a comprehensive focus that includes the teenager (from 12 to 14 years of age), their families and the professionals of their educational centres. Coordinated at a European level by Kronikgune Institute for Health Services Research, this project has been piloted since 2018 in five European regions, including the Basque Country, and involves the participation of three educational intervention centres and three control centres in Vitoria-Gasteiz.
The conceptual framework of the UPRIGHT programme includes four components –confrontation, efficiency, social and emotional learning– along with mindfulness. Within each component, they will learn and implement different specific skills, 18 in total, which will be practised in different sessions, except for the mindfulness component, which is developed throughout the entire programme. UPRIGHT includes different activities and materials to promote its dynamic implementation: videos, selection of film clips, presentations, audio files, etc. It also has developed an online platform for families and teachers that has an open section for the community, with information on the programmes’ collective activities.
The UPRIGHT programme applies mindfulness, which can help teenagers increase their self-awareness, confidence, stress management, and decrease their anxiety and depression levels. Research has also shown that this discipline has many direct benefits on their learning capacity, by improving concentration levels, and kindness with oneself and others. For example, if a conflict has arisen on social media, the family can implement this tool to help the teenager adopt a different attitude or control their reactions.
At this extremely exceptional time prompted by COVID-19, teenagers participating at the UPRIGHT intervention educational centres have had the chance to strengthen their resilience capacities with online activities offered by the programme. Similarly, they are sharing messages on social media, to reinforce their coping, efficacy, and social and emotional learning skills.