Persistent stressors faced by minority youth have placed them at higher risk for behavioral health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidality, but little is known about the mechanisms underlying these inequalities and how they play out in communities. Using an innovative youth participatory strategy, the team will examine how growing up as a member of a neighborhood’s minority or majority racial or ethnic group may affect behavioral health development through social exclusion or inclusion processes. A total of 80 youth –from two communities with a white majority and two communities with a Latino majority–will be recruited for this mixed-methods study. In Year 1, youth will be trained to use photovoice to document their experiences, take photos, and participate in surveys and interviews with the team. The team will also draw on the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which was administered to approximately 3,660 high-school and middle-school students in the neighborhoods, to tap into community-level data on youth behavioral health. In Year 2, the team will interview and hold community forums with families, youth, service providers, and policymakers to report on the study’s results. The goal is to build a shared vision of priorities for a community intervention that responds to youth concerns in order to improve behavioral health outcomes for all youth.
How can youth perspectives inform the development of community interventions that aim to improve adolescent behavioral health by promoting social inclusion and mitigating social exclusion?