On 23rd May 2023, EUREGHA hosted the Final Conference of the BOOST project in the framework of the European Mental Health Awareness Week.

As stressed by Sara Brazys, Scientific Programme Officer for H2020 & Horizon Europe at European Commission’s HaDEA, the event marked the beginning of a new journey for BOOST, a project that focuses on enhancing youth mental health through social and emotional skills development in schools. The event highlighted the importance of EU collaboration and funding for mental health research. By diving into the project’s results and the BOOST approach, the speakers emphasized the need to address mental health in schools, as they play a crucial role in shaping the wellbeing of children and adolescents.

The BOOST project, started in 2018, aims to strengthen social and emotional skills among primary school children through the development of a holistic approach targeting teachers’ Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) competencies and the provision of tools for the whole school staff to facilitate implementation and uptake of SEL in schools. The development of SEL competencies proved to improve not only personal and mental wellbeing but also lead to better academic achievement and success in the labor market, and to long-term effects on people’s mental health.

MEP Maria Walsh, Co-Chair of the Coalition for Mental Health and Wellbeing in the European Parliament, highlighted the alarming statistics related to mental health, with 1 in 6 people experiencing mental health issues in 2016. Mental health is often overlooked at the policy level, but the COVID-19 pandemic has brought it to the forefront. Suicide rates among young people are a significant concern, and approximately 9 million young people in the EU are living with mental health disorders. The pandemic has worsened the situation, with increased depression symptoms and unmet needs for mental health care.

The conference emphasized the need for a comprehensive approach to mental health, considering it as a thread running through all policy areas, with education playing a critical role. The BOOST project was praised for its innovative approach, empowering teachers and promoting social and emotional skills in schools. The context of each involved country (Spain, Poland, and Norway) influenced the strategies used in implementing the project, but overall, the project has brought positive changes to schools, improved teachers’ well-being and skills, and fostered cooperation among stakeholders in local ecosystems. The conference highlighted the importance of continued collaboration and data sharing to effectively address mental health challenges among young people.

Click on “BOOST article” to find the recording of the conference, together with the gallery, and find out all the main highlights in our report.