Building resilience through the outdoors

Young people today face a wider variety of challenges to their wellbeing than ever before. Even for those who come from nurturing and secure families, the challenges faced whilst growing up can be daunting. For vulnerable young people there are so many more pressures and challenges to overcome.

In 2015, a Public Health England report stated that the majority of mental health issues start in childhood or adolescence and continue into adulthood. They highlighted the importance of the 10 to 20 age bracket as being a time fraught with risks to young people’s mental health. The report stated that it’s time to focus on protective factors around young peoples’ wellbeing, supporting them to develop a positive outlook on life, healthy behaviours which in turn will aid achievement in and out of school and in their future lives as adults.

It is well documented that an important aspect of wellbeing is resilience, widely defined as the ability to bounce back from setbacks, traumatic events and disappointment. The good news is, resilience can be learnt and successfully built as a response to stress, adversity and challenge, enabling one to be more likely to cope with future problems (Kelly J 2019).

Here at the Youth Adventure Trust we’re all about resilience building through our outdoor adventure programme, helping to improve the future lives of the vulnerable young people we work with during that challenging period of adolescence. Earlier this year Programme Volunteer, Caron Gaisford, reviewed existing research into the impact of immersion in outdoor environments and activities on young people. We’re pleased to share the summary of her findings here, which highlights the real benefits of programmes like ours on the wellbeing of young people.