In November 2018 The New Mentality’s and Children’s Mental Health Ontario’s joint Youth Action Committee (YAC) released their third youth-led policy paper, From Crisis to Quality, which is aimed directly at service providers to help build a child and youth mental health system in Ontario that is one of quality, continuity, and that meets the needs of all children and youth of diverse backgrounds. In addition to the release of this groundbreaking policy paper, the YAC also released policy recommendations for the Ontario Provincial Government.
In 2019, the Youth Action Committee will focus on creating a strategy to implement the youth-led recommendations from the reports focusing on improving transitions and ensuring staff diversity and anti-oppressive practices.
The Youth Action Committee’s vision is to help build a child and youth mental health system in Ontario that is one of quality, of continuity, and that meets the needs of all children and youth of diverse backgrounds. Though this issue of being crisis-oriented is one that is rooted systemically, there is a great opportunity for change to be made at an organizational and government level that can shift this framework holistically.
The YAC’s efforts over the last two years, working alongside youth from across the province, focused on exploring gaps in child and youth mental health (CYMH) services in Ontario. In 2018, the YAC developed recommendations to both CYMH agencies and the government on addressing these gaps.
There are four main areas of focus:
- Transitioning smoothly between and out of services
- Ensuring staff diversity and anti-oppressive practices
- Strengthening access and care of youth in rural, remote, and northern communities
- Working with youth as partners in service development and delivery
About the project
At the beginning of 2017, the Youth Action Committee identified a variety of significant service gaps facing children and youth with mental health issues. And so they planned and facilitated two consultations in the fall—one in Thunder Bay in October and one in Toronto in 2018—to learn more about the on-the-ground experiences of Ontario’s young people. Collectively, they engaged more than 100 youth, which produced wide-ranging notes and reflections about how the system isn’t meeting their needs. Click here for the summary of the 2017 Youth Policy Summits. From there, the YAC dove deeper.
In 2018, the YAC examined the notes from the consultations, to identify key issues and a theme that unified it all: youth are operating in crisis, and they don’t have stable solutions or access to the help they need. Based on these key issues and theme, the YAC then surveyed young people from across Ontario, looking for solutions. The YAC analyzed the data that came from more than 100 responses and built two sets of recommendations: recommendations directed to child and youth mental health (CYMH) agencies and recommendations directed to the government. And now the YAC is focusing its efforts on making sure that CYMH agencies and government officials review and understand these recommendations, so that action can be taken—at the local and provincial levels—to move from an array of crisis-oriented services to a system of high-quality mental health care.
Thank you to all the youth who attended the 2017 policy summits in Toronto and Thunder Bay and the youth who participated in the 2018 survey. Thank you for having the courage to share your ideas and experiences. Congratulations on the change that you are advancing in mental health through your insight and dedication, and may you continue to do so.
This project is the result of collaboration between passionate youth across the province and their adult allies dedicated to ensuring the child and youth mental health system in Ontario is one of quality that meets the needs of all children and youth. This policy paper was written by 2018 Youth Action Committee Co-Chair, Kaitlinn Gammon from Sudbury Ontario who had the support and effort of a bright team of young advocates who formed the 2018 Youth Action Committee. A special thank you to the 2017 Youth Action Committee who conceived this project and led the 2017 Youth Policy Summits in Toronto and Thunder Bay
Funding for this project was provided generously by the Government of Ontario and the Ontario Child Advocate