Five years and a half after its start, on 23rd May 2023, the BOOST project reached its final act with the Final Conference, organised in Brussels during the European Mental Health Awareness Week. With 100+ attendees between onsite and online, this high-level event was the occasion to present and reflect on research findings and project’s results, above all the BOOST Approach – officially launched during the conference – and discuss with EU institutions and relevant stakeholders how to exploit the potential of BOOST outcomes across the EU in the near future.
Sara Brazys, Scientific Programme Officer for H2020 & Horizon Europe at European Commission’s HaDEA, officially opened the event, stressing the importance of social and emotional well-being and skills of youth and the key role of schools, and praising BOOST as a very good example of EU collaboration and dedication to mental health research. She remarked on the European Commission’s endeavor to fund research programs such as Horizon Europe, addressing different aspects from disorders to risk factors and determinants.
To start diving into the project, Stine Hellum Braathen, BOOST Scientific Coordinator from SINTEF, retraced the project’s life steps and presented the vision and knowledge behind. BOOST aimed to create a holistic approach targeting teachers’ Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) competencies and the provision of tools for the whole school staff to facilitate implementation and uptake of SEL in schools, with the ultimate goal of strengthening social and emotional skills among primary school children. According to scientific literature, the development of SEL competencies leads to improvement not only in personal and mental well-being but also lead to better academic achievement and success in the labor market, with long-term effects on people’s mental health.
Stine Hellum Braathen, SINTEF, speaking at the BOOST Final Conference
The BOOST project was pleased to host MEP Maria Walsh, Co-Chair of the Coalition for Mental Health and Wellbeing in the European Parliament, who addressed a keynote speech. She highlighted alarming statistics related to mental health and gave credit to BOOST as a bearer of an innovative approach in order to strengthen children’s and young people’s mental health resilience through education. In her opinion, schools and class environments can provide such positive education outcomes to improve our citizen participation, European democracy as well as promoting and protecting wellbeing.
MEP Maria Walsh addressing her keynote speech at the BOOST Final Conference
Then, the conference saw a succession of three interactive panel sessions, hosting speakers from the BOOST consortium, BOOST Advisory Board members, and representatives of EU institutions and stakeholders.
The first panel aimed to deepen the development of the BOOST Approach by diving into the formative studies and design considerations. Moving to the second panel, BOOST partners had the chance to tighten the focus on the research carried out during the COVID-19 outbreak, providing insights from the three BOOST countries involved: Norway, Spain, and Poland. To conclude the event, a third and last panel was dedicated to discussing the potential of the BOOST approach and the whole project’s results for addressing the implementation of SEL programmes in European countries beyond the project’s end, taking into account all the policy levels (from European to local). This last panel was enriched by the contributions of Anna-Maria Giannopoulou, Deputy Head of Unit, Unit B2 “Schools and Multilingualism” at DG EAC, European Commission.
Panel on “BOOST into the future: vision beyond the project and learnings for EU policy making”
Moreover, the event was seasoned by a virtual posters exhibition showcasing the BOOST project, results, and tools developed.
Do you want to know more about the Final Conference and the BOOST Approach? Here below you can find the full event report and the button to dive into the Approach!
Did you miss it? Re-watch it here!