Nurturing adolescent adjustment in school and during leisure time: Testing the effectiveness of an ABC-mental health program

01 January 2020 → 31 December 2021
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Educational and school psychology
    • Health psychology
    • Clinical and counseling psychology not elsewhere classified
    • Social and emotional development
    • Motivation and emotion
mental health
Project description

Adolescence is a developmental period marked by declining intrinsic motivation and engagement for school work, while school-related stress, anxiety, and poor sleep peak compared to other life phases. Psychological need experiences play a pivotal role herein, with experiences of psychological need satisfaction (autonomy, competence, and relatedness) contributing to wellbeing and with experiences of psychological need frustration (pressure, failure, and loneliness) increasing
vulnerability for psychopathology. Although adolescents are assumed to have the capacity to contribute actively to their own need-based experiences, no prevention programs to date capitalized on adolescents’ presumed powerful capacity for active self-management of their mental health. To strengthen this capacity, this project aims to target adolescents’ capacity for need-crafting, which involves adolescents self-initiated attempts to seek out activities, contexts, and relational partners that maximize (respectively, minimize) the chances that need satisfaction (respectively, need frustration) can occur. The project encompasses a combination of an experimental study and a universal prevention program developed in the service of strengthening adolescents' capacity for need-crafting, both in school and in their leisure time. By strengthening this capacity, adolescents are better able to get their psychological needs met, which helps to offset their vulnerability for disaffection, anxiety, and poor sleep.