The federal government’s Youth Strategy
The coalition agreement for the 19th legislative period provided for the development of a national Youth Strategy (“gemeinsame Jugendstrategie der Bundesregierung”). With this strategy, the federal government across all ministries acknowledges its shared responsibility for the young generation and pledges its commitment to creating the conditions that all young people and young adults need to be able to grow up safely and healthily. The Youth Strategy is based on nine youth-relevant fields of action, covering the broad spectrum of interests and concerns of young people. Youth researchers and young people themselves have repeatedly rated these fields – including that of "health" – as being of particular relevance to young people. The strategy describes young people’s perspectives of the current situation in each of these areas, and identifies required action and lists concrete measures. All ministries are involved in this process. This is the first ever youth policy project to involve all federal ministries in the Federal Republic of Germany.
One of the key aims of the government's Youth Strategy is the direct, visible and effective participation of young people in "their" Youth Strategy. To guarantee the broadest possible, most informed
participation, various recurring formats encourage young people to act as experts of their own interests. An inter-ministerial task force ensures that findings are included in the development and implementation of the Youth Strategy. The individual formats differ in terms of size, target group and scope and include youth audits, the Youth Policy Days (JugendPolitikTage) and an online participation tool.
Cross-sectoral collaboration is based on the principles of involving young people, making young people visible and sharing responsibility It is about taking young people seriously and giving them opportunities to voice their opinions. Young people should be made visible so that all ministries are aware of their interests and concerns.
The Youth Strategy has formulated the following assumptions and goals relating to "Health":
- The vast majority of young people spend their youth in good health. Certain groups of young people, however, are more likely to develop high-risk behaviours, which can in turn lead to health-damaging behaviour.
- Promoting health skills in young people can significantly improve healthy growth and development. This should be seen as an interdisciplinary political task and educational mandate that affects society as a whole. In this context, account should be taken both of individual behaviours and the respective conditions and life situations. Early and effective promotion of health-oriented behaviour helps improve health equity.
- Important health-relevant aspects for young people include sufficient exercise, a healthy diet, addiction and accident prevention, improvement of health skills, prevention of sexualised violence and a reduction of psychological stress. These areas significantly impact physical health and well-being in this phase of life and can help prevent sometimes serious health impairments in later adulthood. Young people should be actively supported with appropriate and effective health promotion services.
As part of the federal government's Youth Strategy (Jugendstrategie), altogether 27 activities are being carried out in the area of action of “health. Two examples of measures are described below.
National Action Plan IN FORM – Germany's initiative to promote healthy diets and physical activity, prevent poor dietary habits, lack of physical activity, overweight | Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft, BMEL) and Federal Ministry of Health (Bundesministerium für Gesundheit, BMG).
As part of the Action Plan, BMEL and BMG campaign to improve exercise and eating habits, for example with measures to intensify nutrition education and improve nutrition expertise in all age groups, especially children and young people. Specific examples include developing the DGE quality standard for school meals, setting up school networks with the Länder to help school authorities and schools offer balanced meals, developing nutrition education materials and promoting pilot projects to help educators teach nutrition. The general public is also made aware of the importance of physical activity. For young people, the school environment is also important for physical activity promotion. Formally, this is covered by physical education as a school discipline, but additional offers are also needed during breaks and in classes. The National Recommendations for Physical Activity and Physical Activity Promotion (Nationale Empfehlungen für Bewegung und Bewegungsförderung) provide stakeholders with guidelines and demonstrate ways to encourage more physical exercise in a range of settings.
Expert dialogue on strengthening prevention and health promotion among adolescents | Federal Ministry of Health (Bundesministerium für Gesundheit, BMG), Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft, BMEL), Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales, BMAS), Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF), Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ)
The dialogue promotes collaboration across all ages, target groups and subjects between stakeholders from science, industry and politics who are committed to improving young people’s health. One important milestone of the collaboration is the “Guide to a common understanding of health promotion and prevention among children and adolescents in Germany" (Wegeweiser zum gemeinsamen Verständnis von Gesundheitsförderung und Prävention bei Kindern und Jugendlichen in Deutschland), which was jointly adopted by the participating organisations and representatives of the participating bodies. The guide defines the cornerstones and tasks of the expert dialogue within the framework of the process.
No further information on top-level programmes, projects and initiatives etc. to make health services and facilities more youth friendly is available.
The current coalition agreement between the SPD, Die Grünen and FDP for the 20th legislative period of the German Bundestag 2021 to 2025 places a focus on child protection. In particular, it aims to strengthen prevention and support the development of protection concepts. Furthermore, it seeks to improve cooperation between the federal states and establish uniform standards for professional procedures, e.g. for reporting chains. The relevant bodies will be strengthened and consolidated in political terms. Finally, the coalition will secure funding for the federal government's telephone and online counselling services.