Research team on positive adaptation, well-being and mental health of youth at increased risk of family or social adversity

Principal investigator


Malena Argumedes, Julie-Christine Cotton, Jacinthe Dion, Mathilde Garneau, Julie Lane, Alexa Martin-Storey, Julie Noël, Danyka Therriault, Isabelle Thibault, Anne-Marie Tougas, Deborah Ummel

Project status:


May 2024 - April 2028


 Our team's research program focuses on positive adaptation (i.e.,  a state of equilibrium between young people and their environment, which can lead to good mental health), well-being among children and youth at increased risk of experiencing family or social adversity (e.g., maltreatment, sexual violence, bullying, discrimination) and mental health, defined broadly as psychological well-being that enables young people to cope with stressful or adverse events, actualize their potential, find meaning in their lives, participate in community life and integrate into the active population) . To date, scientific research has focused mainly on the risk factors explaining variation in these young people's mental health and adjustment difficulties. Knowledge about the protective mechanisms involved in well-being and positive adaptation in the face of adversity is in its early stages. A growing number of studies, however, suggest that knowledge on protective factors needs to be extended and mobilized to implement effective interventions for youth. Our work focuses on identifying young people’s current or prospective strengths focusing on the social support systems and communities, that young people can draw on to maintain their well-being and good mental health, despite adversity. In line with Quebec's Interministerial Action Plan on Mental Health, and with a view to helping reduce inequalities in line with the priorities of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Program, our work aims to generate fundamental and applied knowledge areas along two axes.   Axis 1 aims to understand the mechanisms that lead young people to positive adaptation, well-being, and mental health despite a high risk of family or social adversity. In particular, the scientific work carried out in this area identifies the protective factors that promote positive adjustment and good mental health among young people exposed to adversity, and the profiles of young people whose mental health and quality of adaptation remain high despite adversity. Axis 2 aims to identify levers and interventions that promote, improve or maintain the positive adaptation, well-being and mental health of these young people, and that are provided as a complement to health services, in both school and community settings. To identify early protective mechanisms that counteract the risks of mental health problems that develop gradually during childhood, the team’s research program includes projects carried out on both clinical and general populations. Within this axis, our scientific work evaluates the effects of new approaches to positive mental health intervention in schools and communities with young people at increased risk of adversity. In particular, these projects focus on identifying promising practices for supporting the significant people around young people who, in turn, provide young people the resources they need for building, maintaining or rebuilding their adjustment and mental health.

Funding Organization:

Fonds de recherche du Québec - Société et culture (FRQSC) / Soutien aux équipes de recherche
Axis 1:
Facilitate the development of adaptive capacities in children who are at risk due to personal or environmental characteristics.
Axis 2:
Change the developmental pathways and the trajectories of children who have difficulties due to their individual or environment-level characteristics.
Axis 3:
Support the adjustment of people experiencing the consequences of adjustment difficulties during developmental transition periods.