Background: Adolescence is defined by key transitional elements which are considered
within a cross-cultural context. The importance of building mental health capacity for
adolescents in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) as well as high-income countries
(HICs) is reviewed.
Objectives: To review the developmental period of adolescence, global needs for mental
health promotion, the needs of LMICs while emphasizing building adolescent mental health
capacity, and the importance of efforts to promote mental health literacy.
Methods: Mental health literacy (MHL) is presented as a strategy that can increase public
awareness regarding mental health issues among adolescents. Increased awareness through
an MHL framework is discussed as a way to build adolescent mental health capacity; with
this work ideally occurring through global communities of practice (COP), dialogue, collaboration,
and mutual support that aim to build innovation in systems of mental health promotion.
Results: The authors review structural components in research, practice, and policy that seek
to build global adolescent mental health capacity, nested within COPs involving HICs and
LMICs working together to advance mental health promotion for children, adolescents, and
Conclusion: The article concludes with a discussion of how the three structural components
(i.e., research, practice, and policy) can address gaps in the provision of global mental health
services for adolescents to meet adolescent mental health needs in LMICs and HICs. A
multi-sectoral approach emphasizing a global COP is presented as a way to scale up capacity
and maximize outcomes.