The Wellness Quest: A health literacy and self-advocacy tool developed by youth for youth mental health

Health Expect. 2021 Apr;24(2):659-669. doi: 10.1111/hex.13214. Epub 2021 Feb 26.


Background: Less than 20% of youth who experience mental health difficulties access and receive appropriate treatment. This is exacerbated by barriers such as stigma, confidentiality concerns and lack of mental health literacy. A youth team developed the Wellness Quest: a health literacy tool to enable help-seeking youth to advocate for themselves.

Objective: To evaluate the content, presentation and utility of the Wellness Quest tool among youth.

Participants: Participants aged 14 to 26.

Methods: A youth research team conducted five focus groups and one online survey to evaluate the Wellness Quest tool. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the qualitative data, and descriptive statistics were used to explore the survey results.

Main results: Overall evaluations of the Wellness Quest were positive: participants felt it would be useful during their mental health help-seeking journey. Participants expressed the need for information about services for specific populations, such as Indigenous, immigrants, refugees and 2SLGBTQ + youth. They expressed that the tool should be available in complementary online and print versions.

Discussion: Improving mental health literacy may improve mental health by enabling youth and those who support them to recognize and respond to signs of distress and understanding where and how to get help. The Wellness Quest tool may equip youth with the knowledge to make informed decisions and advocate for their own mental health, thereby facilitating help-seeking among youth.

Patient or public contribution: Youth as service users led all stages of the project, from designing and conducting the study and analysing the data to writing the manuscript.

Keywords: mental health; self-advocacy; service navigation; service user-led; youth; youth engagement.