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5 domains of adolescent well-being

Click on the icons to learn more about each of the domains

Agency & Resilience

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Agency and resilience are critical to adolescent well-being.


Agency is the capacity to make choices and the power to act on those choices, an ability that is essential for the well-being of adolescents as it plays a crucial role in shaping their resilience. Without resilience, adolescents will not have the capacity to adapt to changes or disruptions that threaten their stability and well-being. Self-identity forms the basis of agency and resilience, a sense of self-worth and feelings of importance.


A range of factors influence how an adolescent self- identifies, including their age, religion, ethnicity, their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE), where they live, and whether they are disabled. Safe spaces to develop and express one’s self-identity are crucial during adolescence, in which patterns of attachments with the wider community—particularly with peers—are developed, and the need for greater independence is first experienced.  

Feeling connected and contributing to society is vital for adolescent well-being. A supportive social network of parents, peers and teachers can improve adolescent mental and behavioural health and provide lifelong benefits.


Adolescents and youth can help their families, neighbours, and communities in various ways, such as volunteering. Volunteering fosters positive values such as caring, equality, social justice, integrity, honesty, responsibility, restraint, empathy, and communication, which can reduce risk taking behaviors and improve physical and mental health. Getting involved in community issues through volunteering creates a sense of purpose and meaning that can last a lifetime. 

Connectedness, positive values and contribution to society;

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Learning, competence, education, skills and employability

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Education, health and well-being are closely connected, and preparing for further education and career are important milestones for adolescents. Education, learning opportunities and skill development help adolescents transition smoothly into adulthood.


Quality education provides skills for future employability, greater agency, longer productive lives, and greater productivity, and ultimately improved well-being. Schools and vocational training can help prepare adolescents for employment by providing a range of important knowledge and skills, including hard and soft skills, and emotional skills necessary for healthy functioning in society.


Education efforts should also reach those who have dropped out of school, such as child labourers, married or pregnant adolescents, or learners who do not fit into the traditional education system. Investing in education and employability during adolescence is an investment in future well-being.

Adolescence is a time of significant changes, physical, psychological, and social. During this time, adolescents develop values and behaviours that will shape their future as adults. These behaviours may involve diet, physical activity, substance use, and sexual activity. By intervening during this period, we can help ensure that adolescents stay safe as they grow up and protect their well-being. To support healthy development into adulthood, it is important to create a safe and supportive environment that protects adolescents from physical harm, and fosters equality and non-discrimination.


This means providing physical and psychological safety and protecting adolescents from all forms of violence, abuse, exploitation, and injury. Adolescents should have their material needs met and be treated fairly with equal rights. They should be free to practice their beliefs, express their identities, have privacy and have the resources and opportunities that enable them to thrive. 

Safety and a Supportive Environment

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Good health and optimum nutrition

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Good health and optimum nutrition means having the ability to handle tasks and challenges effectively. It is not just about avoiding illness and poor nutrition. The health and nutrition of adolescents and youth can be affected by factors like climate change, globalization, urbanization, and changes in diet habits. This often results in what is called a “triple burden of malnutrition,” where adolescents may be undernourished, lacking in vital nutrients, or overweight.


To address the health and nutrition of adolescents, policies and programmes should not only focus on improving nutrition, but also tackle issues like road traffic injuries, limited access to clean water, inadequate sanitation facilities, and substance abuse.  

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