The Youth Action Committee (The 'YAC') is Children's Mental Health Ontario's (CMHO) New Mentality Committee. The New Mentality is a program that engages youth to improve mental health services for children and youth.
Currently, the YAC consists of 6 youth from across the province. The Committee is co-chaired by Caitlin Robb and Mary-Anne Leahy. Cathy Dyer is the adult and CMHO staff ally; Natricia Drummond is a CHMO board member and Adult Ally.
Each year, the YAC develops and assists in implementing a plan of action that reflects the interests and priorities of youth as they relate to the mission and activities of CMHO. The YAC responds to recommendations that are developed and presented by youth who attend CMHO conferences and events. From here, the YAC creates an action plan that includes strategies and mechanisms for implementing those recommendations (where applicable). The Committee also works on annual stigma-reducing projects to raise child and youth mental health awareness.
The YAC aims to act as an advisory group to CMHO's board of directors - providing a youth perspective where appropriate. This helps ensure that CMHO's policies are 'youth-friendly'.
This year the YAC has developed a province-wide youth engagement project to look at Ontario’s education system; specifically, opportunities within the system to create a supportive environment for students experiencing mental health issues and addictions. The YAC has partnered with CMHO’s Change the View video contest.
We want youth to have a voice, to be able to express their opinions and unique insights into how they believe their school can provide a more supportive environment for all students. Make a video that shows what your school can do to create a supportive environment for students experiencing mental health difficulties and addictions.
The contest opens on February 20th 2013 and closes on April 10, 2013. For more information and contest details visit change the view (TBA).
In addition to the Change the View contest, the YAC will also be accepting submissions in the form of a song, poem, artwork, reflection paragraph, and via a survey. Videos submitted after April 10 will still be accepted but not eligible for the contest. Reflection paragraphs should be a maximum of 2 pages, double spaced, and size 12 front. Details on where to submit and when submissions are due will be posted shortly. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out the YAC’s video presentation at CMHO’s Annual AGM.
In the YAC’s inaugural year, the committee developed a toolkit that was created to inspire youth to start talking about mental health and reduce stigma. To download the Toolkit, click here (PDF, 17 pages).
If you wish to distribute the toolkit in your community or get involved with the YAC, please contact Mary-Anne Leahy or Caitlin Robb email@example.com
Each year, the YAC has the opportunity to present at CMHO's Annual Conference and each time, they steal the show!
In 2009, the YAC addressed - to an audience of key decision makers, executive directors, government officials and fellow youth - the 3 pillars of system reform: Leadership, Empowerment and Awareness. At CMHO's Annual Conference in 2010, they shared their ideas for improving Access to Services, System Integration and Coordination, and for increasing Suicide Awareness and Prevention... truly taking a stand for child and youth mental health.
Click on the speeches below to read the YAC's inspiring, powerful words and innovative ideas to improve child and youth mental health.
The YAC in Action!
The YAC hard at work on its Toolkit in 2009.
YAC Chair, Bronwyn, introduces the YAC at CMHO’s Annual Conference in November 2009. The YAC spoke about "Leadership, Empowerment and Awareness".
YAC members at CMHO's Annual Conference in 2009; from left to right: Erin (Adult Ally), Bronwyn (Chair), Tyla, Caitlin, Paige, and Brittany.
YAC Chair, Bronwyn, introduces the Committee at the Child and Youth Wellness Centre of Leeds and Grenville’s AGM in June 2009.
YAC members at the Child and Youth Wellness Centre of Leeds and Grenville’s AGM in June 2009; from left to right: Tyla, Brittany, Paige, and Bronwyn.
YAC member, Brittany (far left) as a judge at CMHO’s Change the View event at the Masonic Temple in Toronto in May 2010.
Left Picture: Change the View celebrity judges (left to right) Zack Werner (Canadian Idol), Ashley Greco (Z103.5), Bronwyn Loucks, and the Hon. Laurel Broten, Minister of Children & Youth Services, announcing the winning video: Carrying the Load. May 6, 2011 - The Masonic Temple, Toronto.
Right Picture: Grand Prize winners accepting their award ($2000 cash, free tour of The Masonic Temple & chance to watch an MTV taping, & framed Change the View poster) from Minister Broten and Bronwyn Loucks. Youth co-hosts Brittany and Carrington (far left to right) look on.
Left Picture: The First Runner-Up and creator of Response-ability accepts his award (prize pack donated by Matix, Dragon Optics, Arts and Crafts, and Idol Summer Camp).
Right Picture: Second Runners-Up and creators of Handful of Secrets accept their awards (prize pack donated by Matix, Dragon Optics, Arts and Crafts, and Z103.5).