Make It Thrive



Make It Thrive intends to support educators in tackling the issue of mental health in schools, developing their competences in dealing with this topic, to ensure that everyone has equal opportunities and access to psychological support, which results in a healthy school environment and academic and personal success.

If the mental health of children and young people was already a challenge before the pandemic, the current scenario, marked by various disruptions in routines, particularly in terms of education and leisure, has deepened this reality.

And while many more children and teenagers are now likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, isolation, or other psychological issues, many have reported that they don’t understand very well their mental health (or feel misunderstood or stigmatised by others). They also mentioned that schools are the first place where they would like to search for help, but that they often don’t know how to do it or feel that educational institutions lack, in general, clear information related to these issues and to the help students can get (Mind Report, 2021).


The 2021/22 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study in Portugal shows a concerning decline in Portuguese adolescents’ mental health and well-being compared to the 2018 HBSC survey (HBSC, 2023). Perception of unhappiness increased from 18.3% to 27.7%, while daily feelings of sadness to the point of being unable to cope rose from 5.9% to 8.7%, and children and adolescents also reported a more negative perception of school and family support, as well as a decreased ease of communication with parents and stronger negative feelings related to school.


In Italy, one student out of five students who were enquired for a study reported symptoms of mental health problems, with a more than double proportion among girls than boys (28.7% vs 10.4% with depressive symptoms, respectively). (Donato, F.,, 2021) Another study conducted in 2022 revealed that the age group 14-24 years old is the most likely of registering mental health problems, with a percentage of 39%.


In Greece, the issue of young people’s mental health has been prevalent, both before and during COVID-19 pandemic, with reports registering that 15.2% of children aged 5-14 experience anxiety, nervousness or worry at least once a week (European Commission, 2023) According with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Greece is the country with the highest prevalence of depression and, alongside Portugal and Italy, has fewer than the 20 psychologists per 100,000 people recommended by specialists.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, a growing and disproportionate number of adolescents in Europe were moving into adulthood with poor mental health, with 16.3% of adolescents aged 10–19 in Europe struggling with mental disorders (WHO, 2023). Current evidence suggests that the number of young people with mental health problems has at least doubled, and that as many as 64% of all young people are at risk of depression. Plus, when we look closely at the statistics of all the countries that will be part of this project – Greece, Italy and Portugal -, we understand why it’s so important to have them in Make It Thrive.
Adolescents aged 10–19 with mental disorders
Young people are at risk of depression
These data are worrying and show that there is a growing need to deal with this problem in order to reverse the numbers presented. However, this situation results from a set of factors and needs that, through Make It Thrive we intend to address and, preferably, solve:

Increase the availability of resources for educators to invest in mental health training in the classroom and support them in addressing this issue in their educational contexts (primary need).

Create a
mental well-being plan
in schools or
support guides for
(primary need).

Pay more attention
to young people's
mental health,
on prevention
(secondary need).

Contribute to the minimisation of the
mental health cases which
arise among children
and teenagers
(secondary need).

Increase the readiness of teachers and other education professionals and promote a better articulation between schools and mental health services (side effects).