Developmental empowerment for young adults: Exploring personal agency, intimacy, autonomy, purpose, mentorship, and community.
Empowering Young Adults
The developmental challenges of early adulthood call for an advanced model of developmental empowerment that combines a range of external contexts with internal psychological processes. Our conceptualization aggregates those features into a single construct, personal agency.
Empowered youth recognize their capabilities, self-determination and worth. They have the confidence to try new things, knowing that failure is a step toward progress.
Intimacy is an important aspect of forming close relationships, which can boost self-esteem and help you cope with stress. It can include romantic partners and friendships, but it also involves nonsexual forms of affection such as back rubs or hugs. It also encompasses supportive connections like family members and friends who build you up when you’re down or help you navigate difficult circumstances such as a layoff.
CSE teaches young adults about healthy relationships and empowers them with information on topics such as sexual consent, HIV testing and pregnancy. This information helps them avoid risky behaviors that can lead to sexually transmitted infections, coercion and early or unintended pregnancies. We found that effective parenting practices, adolescent assertiveness and positive family engagement all predict specific aspects of young adult relationship quality.
Autonomy refers to the ability of oneself to reflect and endorse considerations, desires, conditions, traits or characteristics that define one’s self-worth. This is a crucial condition for a just and functional democratic society. Hence, many social justice theories imply that people who lack such capacities for reflective self-appraisal are oppressed.
However, these relational models of autonomy vacillate between claiming that a person’s relations with others causally affect the enjoyment of autonomy and claiming that these relations constitute it (Mackenzie & Stoljar 2000b; Oshana 2006). A recent study found that autonomy support, operationalized as instrumental practitioner support, is positively related to youth perceptions of participatory group competence. This effect was beyond the influence of age and perceived self-efficacy. This is a powerful and promising finding that should be explored further.
Young adults need to feel connected to something larger than themselves, which can help them overcome a sense of hopelessness. They also need to have autonomy – the ability to make decisions and take action. This is often a struggle, but providing encouragement and opportunities can help youth build confidence in their abilities. For example, mentoring programs pair older men and women with younger boys and girls, who benefit from regular conversations and guidance on life issues.
It’s important to remember that every young person is different, so empowering one group of youth may not work for another. It’s best to meet youth where they are, instead of imposing their own agendas. This is why it’s crucial to provide a safe space for them to be themselves and to express themselves.
Mentorship offers young adults a chance to connect with role models who embody qualities that they aspire to develop. By sharing their own experiences and providing guidance, mentors help mentees build character and improve their quality of life.
Mentoring is a powerful tool for empowering youths, and it helps them become successful entrepreneurs and create jobs in their communities. However, it’s important to note that a mentor is not a therapist. Rather, it’s an opportunity for young adults to gain support and guidance on a variety of topics, including mental health.
Research has shown that mentoring programs, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, offer a powerful one-on-one model that can impact mentees’ social network dynamics and professional identities. These effects can be at the microsystem level (one-on-one relationships) or mesosystem (linkages between microsystems) levels.
Having a sense of community is critical for young adults because it gives them the confidence to stand up for themselves. They can also take risks, knowing they won’t be judged for their choices. They can be a positive influence for their friends and family members.
Several programs incorporate youth voice in decision-making for their services, including this one that partners with teens to design and implement their own mental health wellness plan. Others encourage their participation by promoting community service activities and volunteering opportunities.
A recent literature review and focus groups were conducted to assess community participation interests among young adults with serious mental illnesses. The findings suggest that community behavioral healthcare settings should make assessment of these interests a routine part of practice.