Year: 2020 Source: International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies. (2020). 11(3), 167-191. SIEC No: 20200568

: Child and youth care practitioners are likely to encounter issues of
suicidality. Practitioners play an important role in the well-being of youth; thus,
mental health literacy, and suicide prevention education in particular, should be
an integral part of child and youth care pedagogy and curricular practices in
higher education programs. With the aim of explicating a social process of
learning and applying mental health literacy, this grounded theory study examined
how a curriculum specifically designed for child and youth care practitioners is
subsequently applied in suicide or mental health interventions. Thirteen students
enrolled in youth work courses at a large university in Eastern Canada
participated in the 18-month study in 2015 and 2016. Informed by critical and
social literacy theories, conceptualizations of mental health literacy, and
experiential pedagogy within higher education, analysis of the data identified a
process of becoming and being in youth work comprising two subcategories:
struggling to become a youth worker, and being a youth worker. Conditions, such
as particular pedagogical strategies and specific content, served to shape and
influence the process and, consequently, participants’ movement therein. The
inclusion of a suicide intervention learning activity was a condition that
influenced participants’ learning processes, yet also reflected a struggle with the
dialectical position of presence and procedure. Recommendations and insights are
discussed with the aim of enhancing pedagogical approaches to suicide
intervention within child and youth care higher education programs.