Research Output

The impact of career guidance on the mental well-being of young people.

  Mental health conditions have relatively early onset compared to other major disease categories, and therefore have the potential to cause distress and negative economic impact throughout a person’s working life.
• Youth is a period of complex and prolonged transition, during which there is exposure to mental health risk factors. Youth unemployment may lead to both economic and health scarring with negative consequences that can endure long into adulthood.
• Risks to mental health are not borne equally by all sectors of society. Young people in socio-economically disadvantaged communities are most vulnerable.
• Career guidance has a number of features likely to promote positive well-being, including recognising strengths, a focus on the future, setting achievable goals, and building a social identity through work.
• Career guidance resembles counselling in terms of providing one-to-one attention, and a safe space to young people to share their concerns. It may therefore offer some of the short-term well-being benefits of personal counselling.
• More importantly, career guidance supports people to access decent work, and education or training opportunities that provide access to a source of income, social contact, purposeful activity, and some healthy challenges.
Where the choice of career pathway is informed by good guidance, work is more likely to be rewarding, consistent with an individual’s needs and values, and as a result more likely to be sustainable over time.
• Career service organisations have access to the key target youth populations for public mental health interventions.
• Career guidance can be embedded in programmes to support unemployed youth, and is likely to complement psycho-educational interventions designed to promote resilience.
• The goals of public policy for career service organisations should encompass the promotion of mental health and well-being.
• Assessing the extent of impact of career guidance on well-being is not easy, because it is a modest scale intervention that is difficult to disentangle from its context. Large sample, longitudinal research is required to generate this evidence.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    31 January 2019

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    362 Social welfare problems & services

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Robertson, P. (2019). The impact of career guidance on the mental well-being of young people. Career Development Institute



Career Guidance, Young People, Mental Health,

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