Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Saving and Empowering Young Lives in Europe: Promote health through prevention of risk-taking and self-destructive behaviors

Article Category

Article available in the following languages:

Better teen mental health in Europe

Mental health underpins all aspects of well-being. Therefore a comprehensive European project is currently under way to prevent risk-taking behaviour and suicide in an especially vulnerable group: adolescents.

Climate Change and Environment icon Climate Change and Environment

Funded partly by the EU, the SEYLE project is conducting an intervention study on adolescent behaviour and life styles. The project assesses the effects of three preventive/intervention programmes in a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) design. A consortium of 11 European countries plus Israel has recruited more than 12 000 adolescents from a random sample of European high schools. The aim is to evaluate the outcomes of the preventive programmes and to recommend effective models for promoting positive adolescent health and behavior. The coordination centre is based in Sweden. SEYLE researchers have produced an epidemiological database, containing information on both adolescent healthy and at-risk behaviours. Incidence of self-harm behavior, recklessness, substance and alcohol use and violence, for example, are being measured and will be compared with well-being and healthy lifestyles. Adolescent attitudes to healthy and risk-taking behaviours will also be assessed. Three active interventions are being carried out in each country. These include gatekeeper training that instructs teachers about how to recognise students in need and where to find help; awareness training for adolescents; and screening for at-risk adolescents by health professionals. Interventions were developed by a team of experts in the fields of child psychiatry, epidemiology, psychology, anthropology and suicidology. Thus far baseline data has been collected for 12395 adolescents. Three-month and 12-month follow-up data has been collected and is currently undergoing quality control. All SEYLE centers obtained the required ethical approval for the study. All SEYLE assessment and intervention materials were originally developed in English and then translated (forward and backwards) into nine languages. The translated versions were subsequently evaluated for cultural appropriateness and revised as needed, in order to obtain comparable cross-national data. Analysis of the data so far suggests that risky behaviour among European adolescents is higher than previously estimated. The results of SEYLE are expected to generate a much-needed improvement in our understanding of unhealthy adolescent behaviour and to provide information about cost-effective preventive interventions.

Discover other articles in the same domain of application