Young people in out of home care (OoHC) typically have worse mental health outcomes than peers who grow up within a family of origin. Innovations to improve the mental health of this group have tended to focus on pathology rather than mental health promotion and prevention of mental illnesses, and are often costly and challenging to implement. This qualitative study explored perspectives from young people with experience of OoHC in Melbourne, Australia regarding the promotion of mental health in OoHC. The study informed the subsequent development of a system-level intervention to support workers and carers in OoHC and evaluation of its implementation, the Ripple study. We conducted thematic analysis of data from interviews and focus groups with 14 young people aged 18–24 years with diverse identities and experiences of foster, kinship and residential care. We identified four key themes. These were providing a home-like environment; having someone to talk to; connecting to the wider community and having opportunities to become an active citizen. There is a need for both mental health promotion and treatment approaches in interventions to support workers and carers and young people in OoHC. Mental health promotion strategies should include a focus on enhancing existing capacities of carers and workers. Mental health promotion for young people in OoHC depends on strong intersectoral collaboration and youth participation.

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