RENEW-DK : Education and network oriented support to young adults with mental health difficulties

A qualitative Ph.D. study project by Michaela Høj in the period of 2014-2018, of the US-developed recovery-oriented rehabilitation program focusing on education and work for vulnerable young people aged 18-30 (participatory research study methods and qualitative study interviews).

A study, conducted by Michaela Høj


Child and youth mental health in Denmark has deteriorated over the last 20 years, and mental illnesses account for 60-70% of functional disability among young adults.

It is necessary to address the specific needs of young adults with mental health difficulties in order to help them recover. The manualized model RENEW (Rehabilitation for Empowerment, Natural support, Education and Work) aims to support young adults with mental difficulties through a coordinated intersectional intervention focusing on empowerment, social capacity building and the young adult's own preferences and goals. RENEW is an individual support model, developed for educationally targeted services as well as mental health treatment services.  The primary goal of the model is to enhance the well-being of young adults through empowerment, social inclusion, goal setting and education/work.

The RENEW model thereby offers a manualized and systematized intervention towards young adults with mental difficulties. However, the model has never been tested outside the USA, and we do not know how it applies in a Danish context. The purpose of this PhD study is therefore to test the RENEW model in an out-patient mental health centre and a municipal employment centre in Denmark, and to explore how it can be implemented in this setting and what adjustments need to be made.

The project
The project consists of two phases, with different objectives:

Implementing and adjusting RENEW to make it compatible in an intersectorial context in a Regional Mental Health Centre as well as in a Municipal Occupational Centre in Denmark.

Through a qualitative action research inspired approach I have been engaged in practice and cooperated with practitioners to make the necessary contextual adjustments for RENEW. This process has included: observations (both me observing the staff as well as staff observing each other and reflecting upon it); regular meetings; whole day workshops; and focus groups with young adults with mental health difficulties in which staff participated as observers.

Qualitative evaluation of RENEW in Denmark aimed at exploring how the different possibilities in out-patient psychiatry and in the municipal employment centre influence how RENEW is practiced in Denmark?
This phase consists of two focus points:  how staff experience working with RENEW; and how young adults experience participating in a RENEW process.
Data in this part of the PhD will be gathered though interviews with staff and young adults participating in RENEW.

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