Concepts of Resilience in Adolescent Mental Health Research

  • Kimberley Anderson
    Unit for Social & Community Psychiatry, WHO Collaborating Centre for Mental Health Services Development, Queen Mary University of London, East London NHS Foundation Trust. Newham Centre for Mental Health, London, United Kingdom
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  • Stefan Priebe
    Address correspondence to: Prof. Stefan Priebe, Unit for Social & Community Psychiatry WHO Collaborating Centre for Mental Health Services Development Queen Mary University of London, Newham Centre for Mental Health, E13 8SP, London, United Kingdom.
    Unit for Social & Community Psychiatry, WHO Collaborating Centre for Mental Health Services Development, Queen Mary University of London, East London NHS Foundation Trust. Newham Centre for Mental Health, London, United Kingdom
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      Strengthening the resilience of adolescents is central to promoting long-term mental health outcomes, but resilience is a widely used term, often applied in different ways. We explored how resilience is understood in the adolescent mental health literature and developed a framework that synthesizes the core characteristics of different resilience concepts.


      Systematic searches of electronic databases, hand searches of reference lists and known work on resilience, and multidisciplinary team discussions were employed, and articles with explicit conceptualizations of resilience in adolescent mental health literature were included. After screening 9,562 articles, 105 articles were retained, analyzed and used to refine a framework.


      Three dimensions capture the various concepts of resilience, each with two end points: (1) resilience as withstanding adversity without any distress versus overcoming the distress resulting from adversity; (2) resilience as an existing trait versus as a process over time; and (3) resilience of individuals versus resilience of groups.


      Concepts of resilience in adolescence can be clearly categorized within three distinct dimensions. Referring to this framework may help to clarify and compare different concepts of resilience of adolescents in mental health research as well as at a policy level and in clinical contexts.


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