The MHCC created the Youth Council in 2008 as a way to listen to young people (age 18 to 30) who have lived experience with mental health problems or illnesses, either personally or through a family member or friend.
With more than two-thirds of the adults who live with a mental health problem or illness reporting that their symptoms began when they were young, it’s essential to understand their needs and experiences to improve our mental health system.
In addition, while about 1.2 million children and youth in Canada are affected by mental illness, less than 20 per cent will receive appropriate treatment. By age 25, one in five Canadians will have developed a mental illness.
Youth Council members seek to:
- Advocate on behalf of young people with mental health problems or illnesses
- Engage with youth mental health networks
- participate in MHCC projects
- represent the voice of young people at MHCC and public events
- promote recovery and inspire others.
The Mental Health Strategy for Canada: A Youth Perspective
The impact of mental health stigma on youth
Food for thought: A youth perspective on recovery-oriented practice
Join the conversation: #MHCCyouthcouncil
A member of the MHCC Youth Council since March 2014, Ally enjoys finding new ways to learn and grow in the mental health landscape; through music and art, training and education, and networking to create a broader more cohesive mental health community in Canada. Since her involvement with the YC began, Ally has furthered her experience and education in the field by taking Peer Support Training, ASIST, Mental Health First Aid, and completing a Children’s Mental Health certificate through Georgian College. Ally was elected as Vice Chair in March 2017 and recently stepped up as Chair in March 2019.
An activist for equity and equality in marginalized groups, Ally has a special interest in LGBT+, (dis)ablility and rural communities. In October 2018 she left her career as an Autism Support Associate to step into the role of Youth Outreach Coordinator at Wellness and Emotional Support (WES) for Youth Online in Walkerton, Ontario. A rural farming community 2.5 hours north-west of Toronto, Walkerton is also Ally’s hometown, where she lived until 2011. This gives her a unique opportunity to make a difference for youth going through many of the same experiences she had growing up in a small town and share the journey of recovery that brought her back home.
Emily is a First Nations woman and mental health advocate from the west coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. In 2017, she joined the Youth Council as a person with lived experience and particular interest in supporting the 2SLGBTQ+ community, Indigenous peoples, those who have experienced trauma, and those facing systemic barriers to accessing quality mental health care.
As a content expert on child and youth mental health, Emily co-chair’s the Oversight Committee for the Improving Integrated Care for Youth (IICY) Initiative with Health Standards Organization. She is a member of the Steering Committee for MHCC’s Psychotherapy Policy Implementation Network (PPIN) and an Executive Advisory Committee member for the National Standard of Canada for Post-Secondary Student Mental Health and Wellbeing.
Emily is currently a lab manager and research assistant in the Cognitive Aging and Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory in the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University in St. John’s, NL. Her interests include clinical geriatric psychology, child and youth mental health, hearing loss and aging, as well as trauma-informed care. She holds a B.Sc. (Hons) in Psychology from Memorial University and an M.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, where she examined the influence of clinical depression and hearing loss on the ability to understand speech in challenging listening environments. Emily was elected Vice-Chair in March 2019.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Armaghan (Army) is currently a medical student at the University of British Columbia. He has long been passionate about advocating for youth mental health and providing peer support to help ensure that these resources are available and readily accessible across Canada. He also recognizes the importance of educating primary care physicians and other health-care providers on how to become better mental health allies.
During his undergraduate studies at McGill University, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science (Hons.) degree in anatomy and cell biology, Army was intimately involved in mental health on campus as chair of the Peer Support Centre at McGill, a student-run organization providing confidential, non-judgmental mental health support to other students. Using these experiences, he also served as a mental health commissioner at the Students’ Society of McGill University, where he worked with McGill’s administration to develop better mental health policies and launch the Rossy Student Wellness Hub.
Prior to joining the board, Army was a member of the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Youth Council. He also co-founded the Canadian Peer Support Network, which sought to bring peer support to institutions across the country.
Griffin Jenkins comes to the MHCC Youth Advisory Council from Winnipeg, Manitoba where he is the Director of Education and Youth Services for the Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba. Since the age of 12, Griffin has been living with Dysthymia and Cyclothymia. Since he got his diagnosis at the age of 14 he has used self-help strategies to deal with his mental illness with the support of his community.
Griffin has been providing peer-support to friends, family, and community members for 4 years now and has been giving presentations about mental health for 3. He uses the ideas of peer-support in all the work that he does and will bring that experience with him as he works on the council. Griffin has played music for the past 10 years and believes that having music as an outlet was a huge factor in his ability to recover as well as he has. He is excited to represent his community on a national scale in this council.
Myriam Lecousy is currently a full-time student studying Psychology and Behavioural Science at McGill University, as well as an active member of various mental health programs in Montreal. She is passionate about mental health advocacy and hopes that opening the discussion surrounding mental health will bring more youth together to share their experiences. She experienced her first episode of depression at 13 years old and hopes that sharing her story will reduce stigma surrounding youth and mental health.
She developed a passion very early on to help others in need. She founded the program “Exprime-Toi” in her last year of high school with the intention of expanding the mental health discussion in her school. This program permitted students to express themselves through all means, such as art and poetry, thus providing a voice to these students about their difficulties. She has since volunteered with various organizations such as U.M.B.R.E.L.L.A., an L.G.B.T.Q. organization that acts as a support group, a club, and a resource center at Vanier College, a Montreal-based anonymous crisis phone line for youth, Face à Face; an organization that offers phone line support, active listening sessions, mental health resources, and special programs for homelessness, and Brain Awareness Montreal, where she gave a public conference to primary and secondary schools. She was also a mentor for youth at Agence Ometz, an organization providing social services to the greater Montreal community.
Ubah Mohamoud comes to the youth council with a passion for elevating the voices of youth struggling with mental health issues. Over the years, Ubah has worked collaboratively with various organizations and groups focused on mental health awareness and advocacy, particularly as it pertains to individuals from diverse ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds. As such, Ubah brings to the council an understanding of the significance of how the various intersections of an individual's identity may interact with - and in some cases, mediate - their mental health-related experiences.
Madina is a Registered Nurse in Vascular Surgery at the QE II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She has leveraged her ten years of lived experience with mental illness to become a strong advocate for mental health promotion, stigma reduction and suicide prevention. She has a special interest in LGBTQ+ youth and people with disabilities. For over six years, Madina has presented at local, national and international conferences on topics such as how to better engage young patients in their care, how to reduce barriers to accessing care, and how to foster youth mental health. She is certified in Mental Health First Aid and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills (ASIST).
Madina represents the Youth Council on the Steering Committee for the MHCC Guidelines for Recovery-Oriented Practice and she promotes the implementation of the MHCC’s Post-Secondary Mental Health and Psychological Safety Standard by post-secondary institutions in the Maritime Provinces.
She volunteers for the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia, the Canadian Postsecondary Partnership to Reduce Alcohol Harms, Dalhousie University Student Health Promotion, and Stay Connected, which is an innovative program that facilitates the transition of adolescent mental health patients into the adult mental healthcare system. She also volunteers on the IWK Health Centre Family Leadership Council, the Medical Services Quality and Patient Safety Committee, the Health Centre Hand Hygiene Champions, and the Climate Driven Infectious Diseases Advisory Committee of the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing.
At a young age, Manish immagrated to Canada from Mauritius with his family. Now, hailing from Surrey, British Columbia, Manish is an active member of numerous mental health programs, while pursuing his studies at the University of British Columbia. Drawing from his own lived experiences, Manish has become a staunch supporter of increasing the accessibility of mental health care, especially for individuals with marginalized identities. Some of his most meaningful experiences have come from working at a peer support center and crisis line in his community. Moreover, he has worked with refugee and immigrant support and re-settlement groups in Vancouver. Hearing countless stories similar to his own has motivated Manish to advocate on behalf of communities he identifies with, namely LGBTQ2S+ individuals, people of colour, and newcomers to Canada.
Elyse Trudell is a French Canadian and Metis from the rural community of Chatham, located in South-Western Ontario. Elyse completed a Master’s of Occupational Therapy at McMaster University, and an undergraduate degree in Medical Sciences at the University of Western Ontario. Elyse works as an Occupational Therapist and Program Coordinator on the Eating Disorders Program at Homewood Health Centre, where she co-created a problematic substance use stream within the program. She is trained in ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Training), Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, which inform her work as a health care provider. It is her rich experience facilitating and advocating for comprehensive mental health care within her program and local community that inform her interest in bolstering our health care and education systems to support mental health promotion. Coupled with her lived experience as a user of mental health services for anxiety and mood disorders, Elyse’s passion for wellness and firm belief in enabling individuals to engage in meaningful occupations despite barriers like mental or physical health diagnoses, are dynamic and always growing.