Background In 2011 Re municipality was certified as Safe Community. Re is a small municipality in a rural area in Norway. Over the last 10 to 15 years the development in Re has been of some concern. An increasing number of children and youths struggle to manage their lives. A survey in junior high shows that 20% is depressed.Investment in early childhood can give great results and are well documented in several studies. Programs that take care of the populations physical health has been developed both internationally and in Norway. But when we searched for interdisciplinary programs that address psychological health and prevention during childhood there were none. This lead Re municipality to start a project in 2011, SMART upbringing. Our vision: Resilient children, youths and adults. SMART has become a model for our municipality to organise a continuously interdisciplinary prevention program that addresses children’s mental health in all arenas and prevention levels. Our understanding is that if we affect the children’s capacity to be resilient we can prevent mental illness, self harm, drug abuse and falling out of society.
Methods The SMART is inspired by several methods: Values through positive psychology, appreciative action research used to coordinate the efforts on booth micro level and organisational level across all services and social constructions to create a common terminology on strengths through storytelling that identify success in everyday life. Through repeating cycles using appreciative action research together with the children and their family, new knowledge develops. The tools are pictures, stories, films and posters created together with the children. The theoretical fundament is described in 3 books. The tools are used on all arenas in the municipality. Re has hired a sociologist to initiate a study over a period of 3 years to research and develop SMART upbringing.
Results SMART upbringing has become the largest interdisciplinary development project that addresses childhood and prevention of mental health. The culture is changing, and the focus is changing from repairing to preventing. From problems to strengths. Teachers, social and health workers reports that they gain better results in their work. SMART is a program that empower the children. We have achieved fewer children need special facilitated teaching from 11.5% to 7.3% (under the average in Norway). Fewer children reports on beeing bullied (under the average in Norway). The children services have received 37% fewer reports on concern of neglect.
Conclusions It is our belief that SMART upbringing can contribute with knowledge on how a municipality can organise continuous interdisciplinary actions that safeguard and promote children’s mental health in all services on all childhood arenas.
- Action research
- public health
- child youth and mental health
- build reclines
- interdisciplinary cooperation
- positive psychology
- focus on strength
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