Academic Literature

Mitigating Mental Health and Wellbeing Challenges Among Young Populations: A Scan of Youth-Led Initiatives Across Canada to Inform Psychosocial Program Development

2024

Mitigating Mental Health and Wellbeing Challenges Among Young Populations: A Scan of Youth-Led Initiatives Across Canada to Inform Psychosocial Program Development

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Youth across Canada are developing creative initiatives that address blind spots and inadequacies in youth mental health services and support, yet few have been formally documented. This study fills this gap, compiling and distilling learnings from youth-led initiatives about the approaches and spaces they have created to support the mental health and wellbeing needs of their peers. Using a decolonizing framework, a systematic scan of the grey literature was conducted to identify youth-led initiatives across Canada. A total of 107 youth-led initiatives were included and information regarding their governance structure, mission, delivery of their programs, and definition of mental health and wellbeing was collected and thematically analyzed using an intersectionality lens. Three important themes were identified that ground the work of youth-led initiatives: 1) Facilitating education, capacity building and access to resources, 2) Ensuring inclusive spaces for healing and social support, and 3) Fostering diversity and pride. The unique narratives, values and approaches projected in youth-led initiatives offer important insights regarding what youth want, and emphasize the importance of engaging youth in the design and development of mental health and wellbeing policies, services, and strategies to improve their responsiveness and cultural safety.

Williams, K. A., Evans, C., Mazaniello-C, M., & Adams, A. M. (2024). Mitigating mental health and wellbeing challenges among young populations: A scan of youth-lead initiatives across Canada to inform psychosocial program development. Children and Youth Services Review, 156, 1-7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2023.107323

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