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Exploring Resiliency Beyond the Individual

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1 Exploring Resiliency Beyond the Individual
Theory, Framework, Programs and Application Patricia Scott-Jeoffroy Parent Action on Drugs March, 2011

2 Parent Action on Drugs
began 30 years ago by parents in Ontario initiated peer education programming in 1985 mandate is to address issues related to youth substance use develops and provides a growing bank of programs and resources for youth, professionals and parents and caregivers PAD is a member of HC Link Diane will speak to this slide

3 Agenda Exploring resiliency beyond the individual Theory Framework Programs Application Much of the information currently being shared about resiliency has a focus on the individual. This presentation will review the definition of resiliency and expand the perspective to include environmental and societal influences


5 Defining Resiliency The ability to bounce back from difficult situations and adversity to make healthier choices when coping with life’s struggles Use this as our working definition of resiliency for the individual

6 Importance of Resiliency
Research shows that a resilient youth is less likely to become involved in problems such as substance use, gang participation, gambling or other anti-social behaviors

7 The concept of resiliency is not new.
It’s Not New The concept of resiliency is not new. Many researchers and clinicians have understood the role that resiliency plays in the lives of youth for many years. Began in the 1970’s Began as a way to understand anti-social behaviours in youth Noticed that youth who had been exposed to ‘risk factors’ developed into healthy competent adults-researchers started looking at protective factors

8 Dr. Wayne Hammond The capacity for resiliency develops and changes over time Work is primarily focused on at risk youth Risk and protective factors Developed a framework and assessment tool Dr. Hammond is the president and executive director with Resiliency Initiatives in Calgary, Alberta. Over the past twenty years, he has primarily worked with high-risk youth and their families with a focus on co morbid, sexually acting out, substance abuse and violence issues as well as other related mental health concerns. He has served in clinical supervisory capacities, worked in a comprehensive residential treatment centre and has provided clinical services in an inpatient/outpatient forensic setting as well as an adolescent co morbidity program based in a hospital setting. He has published several scientific articles and has been an active lecturer with regards to various mental health concerns and the implications of strength-based practice related to working with adolescents and families as well as First Nation youth and their families

9 Very familiar youth resiliency framework that identifies both internal variable and external influences Emphasis on how the individual connects with the external variables Risk and protective factors

10 Michael Under Too Safe for Their Own Good:
How Risk and Responsibility Help Teens Thrive How much risk is too much risk? Are we keeping our kids too safe? Need to teach youth what is appropriate risk taking, how to assess risk and how to keep themselves safe rather than doing it for them Strength Based Counseling: with At-Risk Youth Six strategies for nurturing resiliency The hidden coping of disadvantaged youth Two books with emphasis on parents and cousellors on working with youth to take appropriate risks as a form of learning Emphasis on strength based work rather than deficit Asks the questions of how do we define resiliency, western euro centric thinking,

11 UnDer From a community perspective:
in the environment in which teens are learning to be adults; has the community found the balance between keeping youth safe and allowing them the risk taking responsibilities of the maturing process? Example the merry-go-round spin around as fast as you can stand until you get dizzy or throw up. Indeed a dangerous apparatus that has been removed from most playgrounds. The opportunity the merry-go-round filled was to fulfill the thrill seeking need of youth. Removing an unsafe apparatus reduces risk, but did the community replace it with a safer risk-taking activity – not likely and the nature of kids will be to seek out thrill seeking and risk taking activities. By not allowing youth to have access to safer risk taking and thrill seeking opportunities provided by the community, they will find their own which a likely to be linked with what gets defined as ‘delinquent behaviour’ Will get back to this later with GTA example

12 Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate
Hold onto your kids: Why parents matter more than peers Engaging parents in the development process of youth and addressing the ‘they just don’t listen’ issue for parents Applied to a community understanding: the parent, community and broader society also speak to the youth growing up in the community Emphasis importance to listening to the voice of youth Dr. Gordon Neufeld is a Vancouver-based developmental psychologist who consults with parents and professionals regarding children and their problems. He brings to us his unique synthesis of the developmental literature and his exceptional ability to make children understandable. He has a widespread reputation for being able to make sense of difficult and complex problems and for opening doors for change.

13 Barry Duncan The Heroic Client What is Right with You
Approaching problems in life with a negative self perception predisposes you to failure. Your personal strength allows you to manage the inevitable changes that life will offer. Applied to the community: does the environment view youth as a potential problem or opportunity and what do the policies developed reflect? His two books: What’s Right with You? Heroic client Building self esteem and positive self worth will allow youth to attain positive outcomes From the community: are the challenges of youth issues viewed as problems? Are the outcomes of programs to eliminate the problem or empower, develop and support the youth to be a positive member of society? Example: town curfew – bi-laws that indicate with youth cannot do rather than what they can do. For example: community centre rules: no access to the weight room under the age of 16. Ability to sign out library books under that age of 12 only with parental supervision


15 Approaches to Youth Resiliency
Traditional understanding of the youth address the internal variables: the ‘nature’ of the youth the individual Approaches focus on building self-esteem, optimism and independence of the individual almost in isolation of the external environment We tend to overestimate that internal / personal variables and underestimate the influence of the environment

16 What is the impact? Emphasis on the internal variables of the youth are important however can be limiting By also addressing the context of the community and the environment in which the youth lives broadens the impact of resiliency programs. Moves the perspective from what the individual needs to do to build personal resiliency to what the community can do to create an environment where resiliency is possible

17 Ecological Approach Examines the context of the individual’s existence: family, peers, school, neighbours and larger society Explores the role of the environment in building resiliency Reverses the lens from the individual’s resiliency to the perspective of the environment Michael Unger did some of his initial work in this context: Dalhousie University 2004

18 Ecological Approach How the youth feels and sees themselves, is influences by the broader community, including friends, family and neighbourhood. These are directly shaped by national policies, global economic climate, terrorism and the media Mental Health Foundation of Australia

19 Ecological Approach Suggests that viewing resiliency as a component of just the individual is a limited approach Rather, resiliency is an attribute of communities, schools and families. Attention to the risk factors should be done only to identify development of protective factors Mental Health Foundation of Australia This is lifted directly from the web …I need to translate it into common language There is a universal human tendency to over-estimate the importance of internal, personality factors and under-estimate the impact of the environment in explaining people's behaviour. This has been referred to as the 'fundamental attribution error'. In the context of resiliency, this error is reflected in a tendency to see the good or poor functioning of a child as due to the child's 'nature' rather than their context or circumstances. However, resiliency research has increasingly embraced an ecological model, in which the child's functioning and behaviour is viewed within the context of a web of bi-directional relationships, including family, school, peers, neighbourhood and the wider society. Whilst genetic factors do play a role in resiliency, ultimately much more important is the quality of inter-personal relationships and the availability of networks of support. Programs that target the cognitive underpinnings of resiliency - optimism, self-esteem, autonomy and so forth - are important. However, the ecological perspective suggests that treating children as isolated units of cognitive functioning is a limited approach. Ultimately resiliency is not an attribute of any single individual; it is an attribute of communities, schools and families.

20 ‘Fundamental Attribution Error’
a tendency to see the good or poor functioning of a youth as due to the youth’s ‘nature' rather than their context or circumstances Mental Health Foundation of Australia

21 Meso-system /exosystem
Macrosystem Meso-system /exosystem Micro-systems Individual Much research conducted with children exposed to war , trauma (Mary Harvey – Harvard Medical School) Individual: genetic predisposition age, gender, faith Microsystems: child-family and child-school relationships religious practice Mesosystme/Exosystem Family-school relationship Neighbourhood, religious institutions Macrosystem Political, economic religious cultural context Research on children exposed to armed conflict: in addition to individual resiliency key influences on how the larger community views mental health and healing Betancourt and Khan Harvard School of Public Health 2008

22 Mental Health Foundation of Australia
Less academic but similar perspective of the previous slide As the diagram above illustrates, resiliency is a function of a network of bi-directional influences which embrace the individual's inner world of thoughts and feelings, his or her family, school and the immediate neighbourhood, and ultimately the wider world, where factors such as national mental health policies, global economic climate, terrorism, and the media come into play. Mental Health Foundation of Australia

23 Best Practice for Resiliency Programs
A focus on identifying and developing protective factors Targeting of ‘at risk’ children Targeting at times of transition and stress A strong research or evidence base A focus on fostering supportive environments a preference for systemic intervention Evaluation built into the program

24 Best Practice Mission: frame goals in positive terms
Models: include positive predictors and outcome in models of change Measures: assess the positive ways as well as the negative Methods: consider multiply strategies based on resilient needs Risk-based approaches Asset-focused strategies Process-oriented designs Mission Often goals are often set “to eliminate a negative’ rather than develop a positive. To reduce the number of youth hanging out on the streets after school’ could be positively reshaped to be ‘to increase the number of youth utilizing the new skate board park’ Models should include notions of health and competence as well as dysfunction. Focus on normal development factors and acknowledge protective as well as risk factors Outcomes should be measured on positive outcomes rather than just the absence of problems Measures: Using the previous example: measure if there is a reduction in number of youth hanging our after school, however also measure the skill development of the skateboarders (social skills, physical development, interest in team sports etc Methods: Masten and Powell 2003: Risk-based approaches: aim to reduce adversity Asset-focused strategies: improve or add assets in the lives of children Process-oriented designs: attempt to mobilise children's’ adaptive capacities

25 Ann Masten and Jennifer Powell
When designing programs focus on the positive resources, health and competence ‘Programs’ mission, goals, measures and methods should all reflect a focus on positive adaption and the natural human capacity for healthy adaptation.’ Most programs tend to focus on the absence of the negative rather than the development of positive Challenge of funding which is set on a deficit model rather than strength model


27 OPHA In February 2009, OPHA received Health Canada funding to lead a provincial Youth Engagement (YE) Project. Working closely with six pilot sites throughout Ontario, OPHA assisted with local youth engagement initiatives and developed tools and resources for organizations to use when working with youth D

28 OPHA Youth Engagement Project
The project will run from February 2009 – June 2011. The goal of this project is to increase the application of knowledge and skills among public health professionals working with grades 6, 7 and 8 students to increase youth engagement in activities that enhance protective factors and resilience against illicit drug use and risk taking behaviours among this age group.

29 Parent Action on Drugs Increase positive parenting practices
Strengthening Families Programs aims to increase family cooperation, communication and organization through participation in an eight-week skills- building family change program Increase positive parenting practices Increase overall family strengths and resilience Increase social skills in youth (cooperation, responsibility and self-control)

30 Strengthening Families Programs
an active curriculum of skills-building designed specifically to increase protective factors, such as parent-child communication and empathy, consistent parental monitoring and positive discipline and strategies to improve family organization and cohesion. Sessions for youth are designed specifically with youth in mind; to be fun, active and helpful in relation to both parents and peers.

31 CAMH Growing up resilient: Ways to build resilience in children and youth Tatyana Barankin and Nazilla Khanlou How people cope with the challenges they face in different life stages is influenced by their sense of who they are, how they relate to the world and others around them, and how well they manage the various parts of their lives. Guide book for parents with tips for how to build resiliency in youth Include tips from the book to assist parents


33 What can we do? No two communities will be the same or require the same supports and developments All aspects of the local community as well as the wider society (Global economic conditions, political unrest, violence etc.) will fluctuate Seek to be aware of the environment created through public policy and actions which have an influence on resiliency

34 Community Resilience The strength of the social capital available for the individual to draw upon in times of adversity The strength of the social network that supports members of the community Community resilience can be assessed in multiple ways: 1.Crisis such as new Orleans, Haiti 2.Repeated oppression such as the native community Larger society has influence in both ways : ie issue of homeless teens, community may be resilient due to avaiable youth shelter and housing and might also be resilient in absence of the shelters if couch surfing Also need to consider economic environment: what opportunities exist for youth to gain meaningful employment or access to education to provide income for sustainable housing? Larger issue of world economics etc

35 A Local Example New High School built to accommodate increasing population in GTA community School is built facing north side of 4 lane road No side walk in front of school on north side of the street Pizza, sub and chicken shop on south side of the street, bus stop and cross walk are on the North side approx 500 yards to the west with no connecting side walk


37 Environmental Resiliency
Whereas youth in their high school years are developing independence and assessing risk taking, the environment created by the lack of sidewalk inhibited appropriate opportunities. Youth began crossing the 4 lane highway in the midst of traffic

38 Community Response A sidewalk was built in front of the school to allow for safe passage to the intersection and south side of the street Assessing youth resiliency from the individual perspective would evaluate what was wrong with the youth that they would be running across 4 lanes of traffic and not acknowledge that the community has created an environment that inhibited building resiliency Response could have been to increase the education for safe street crossing.

39 Ecological Response evaluate environment in which the youth is making decisions the missing sidewalk is a variable beyond the internal ‘nature’ of the individual therefore by building the sidewalk, the community is playing a positive role to develop the independence of the youth and supporting the development resiliency Youth can now make decision about lunch options, can safely access transportation, can decide to stay later after the busses leave school to participate in school programs etc.

40 Another Community Example
A GTA community has a growing population, and is a commuter town for the City of Toronto With this develops a community of families with most housing geared toward two income single family homes The result is many parents absent from the family home after school (generally between 2:30-6:00pm) As many of us working with youth identify, this period of ‘free time’ creates a potential for risk for youth

41 Investing in Youth New developers in partnership with the town and a youth advisory council construct a skate-board park in the middle of the new development. Refocus on traditional approach to children’s playground. Allows space for youth who have outgrown the playground

42 Community Response Provides affordable access to local community centers for swimming, skating, hockey and art clubs Provides youth drop-in programs between 3:00-5:00pm at various community locations Provides ‘in-training’ programs for youth who are underage for employment Fee for use access at the community center is $2.00 or there is a student monthly rate Skateboard park developed with a youth advisory council Drop in programs include video games, movies, and sports -shinny hockey, basketball etc. In-training such as counsellor in training for summer camp and life guard in training prep courses Many of these initiatives involved the school, community, local regional and provincial levels of government and policy development

43 Ecological Response Prioritizing youth in the community allowed for the recognition of positive attributes of youth Public policy allowed for programming to support youth through social, recreational and academic opportunities Creates a community of resilience rather than a community of youth without structured opportunities

44 Leonard Sax Boys Adrift, Girls on the Edge
Assessment of gender differences in risk taking behavior Boys overestimate their ability and underestimate the risks Girls underestimate their ability and overestimate the risks When planning programs it is important to note that there are gender differences and very specific strategies to motivate and empower.

45 Resources Parent Action on Drugs
Resiliency Initiatives : Dr. Wayne Hammond Resiliency Research Center: Michael Unger Mental Health Foundation of Australia

46 Conclusion By strengthening individual resiliency you also can work towards building a stronger safer community Resiliency can be developed within the individual. Resiliency is also a product of the environment, community and social context of the individual Partnership potentials exist within the community and programs designed to address both offer the best opportunities for youth

47 On behalf of Parent Action on Drugs, Thank you for participating in the Resiliency Webinar

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