Yamaguchi, S., Tuong, J., Tisdall, E. K. M., Bentayeb, N., Holtom, A., Iyer, S. N., et al. (2023). « Youth as accessories »: Stakeholder Perspectives on Youth Participation in Mental Health Policymaking [Part II]. Adm Policy Ment Health, 50(1), 84-99.
Purpose: To elicit stakeholder perspectives on the findings from our scoping review on youth participation in mental health policymaking, we conducted a global consultation with young people and adults directly involved in mental health policymaking.
Method: Forty-four stakeholders from 16 countries, including 15 young people, 9 policymakers and 20 facilitators of youth participation, took part in individual interviews and/or focus groups. They were asked about how the review findings contrasted with their own experiences in mental health policymaking. The transcribed data were thematically analyzed.
Results: All participants viewed lived experience as valuable in identifying policy gaps. Youth pointed out that children and youth with disabilities, diverse sexual orientations, and/or gender identities were often excluded, and spoke about feelings of being an « accessory », illustrating a lack of power-sharing in a tokenized policymaking process. Adult participants’ accounts highlighted the challenges inherent in policymaking such as the need for political knowledge and institutional time constraints. A range of cultural, socio-economic, and political barriers to youth participation, that were often context-specific, were identified.
Conclusions: The diverse perspectives of stakeholders extended the review results. Based on our findings, we recommend that adults and institutions: (1) recognize lived experience as expertise in shaping mental health policies; (2) include diverse groups; (3) reduce tokenistic relationships through the creation of safer spaces, adult feedback, co-production, and social accountability; and (4) adopt an intersectional approach to address cultural, socio-economic, and political barriers to participation. Methodologically, our work demonstrates why stakeholder consultations are an essential component of scoping reviews.