With more than two-thirds of adults living with a mental health problem reporting that symptoms first appeared in their youth, the Mental Health Commission of Canada believes it is important to ensure meaningful child and youth engagement is evident throughout the Commission’s work. The MHCC created the Youth Council in 2008 to listen to the needs, experiences, and advice of a group of young people who have lived experience with mental health problems or illnesses, either personally or through a family member or friend.
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About the Youth Council
The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) recognizes that empowering and collaborating with youth is essential to improving our mental health care system, with as much as 70 per cent of young adults living with mental health problems or illnesses reporting that symptoms started in childhood.
In response to recommendations found in the Senate report Out of the Shadows at Last, the MHCC’s former Child and Youth Advisory Committee set out to provide the opportunity for meaningful child and youth engagement by creating the Youth Advisory Council. Since its inception in 2008, the Youth Council has provided opportunities for youth with personal experiences of mental health problems and illnesses to inform our work.
The Youth Council is made up of youth between the ages of 18 and 30 who have lived experience with mental health problems or illnesses, either personally or through a family member or friend.
The Youth Council’s main goals are to:
- advocate on behalf of young people with mental health problems
- engage other local, provincial, and national youth mental health networks
- participate in projects arising from MHCC initiatives
- represent the youth voice at MHCC events
- participate in public events to promote recovery and inspire other youth
The Youth Council aims to increase youth participation in decisions related to mental health service delivery and policy making and increase the impact of youth involvement in system change.
Members have been asked to participate in various MHCC projects in order to provide youth perspectives, including the MHCC’s anti-stigma research initiative, the homelessness and mental health project, the Mental Health Strategy for Canada and many former Advisory Committee projects.
In 2012, the Youth Council created a video about their encounters with mental health stigma. The video’s messaging, location scouting, and shooting were driven by Youth Council members.
The Youth Council is involved in numerous projects in 2013, including helping to mark national Child and Youth Mental Health Day and assisting with a version of the Mental Health Strategy for Canada targeted to youth set for release in 2014. The goal of this project is to advance system change recommendations as defined by young people across Canada.
To find out more about the Youth Council, email Keely Brach, Network Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org.