YSB Mirthful Minds is a Youth Advisory Committee that works towards decreasing the stigma associated with mental illness and brings a youth voice through collaborative conversation within the Ottawa community in hopes of creating and promoting healthier ways to support youth and their families around their mental health.
Mirthful Minds consists of 4 youth and 2 adult allies. All of our group members are past YSB clients who have first hand experience dealing with mental health problems. Austin, 22 is currently studying to be a youth worker at Algonquin College. Emily, 20 is a student at Ottawa University, studying psychology. Danny, 15 and Theresa, 17 are both in high school. Our adult allies are Marco Falsetti and David Lafreniere. Marco works as a long term counselor; both family and individual. David is the coordinator of a section 23 program as well as a supervisor for two school based counselors. Our mission is to break the stigma regarding mental illness. We meet on a bi-weekly basis to work on our initiatives.
Currently, our group is working on a team building project entitled “the tree of life.” The purpose of the project is to trace the roots of our group, identify the strengths each members brings to the group and create a common vision on how we’ll reach our objective re: stigma.
We took on this endeavor to ensure that there’s consensus in terms of the initiatives we decide to pursue. Marco, Dave, Theresa and Danny are all new to the group, so we felt that it was important to go through this reflection process before taking on tasks.
Some of the projects we’re considering include a peer support system to address the school refusal problem for youth who suffer from debilitating anxiety. Another project includes a youth mentoring program, where a youth would serve as mentor for a parent struggling with their teen. Finally, our group plans to form partnerships with other leading mental health programs in the region such as Youthnet, the Headstrong committee, the Centre of Excellence as well as the Bridges program.
- Group members translated “Charter of Story-Telling Rights” document into youth friendly language to make it more accessible to teenagers.
- Two group members hosted Youth Recognition Awards ceremony.
- Group member was an inspirational speaker at Keleiscope of Hope Gala.
- Bell Let’s Talk Initiative – facilitated and participated in open dialogue around mental illness and challenging stigma through social media (twitter).
- School Resource Board – located in student services office area for students to have full access to mental health resources in the community for both youth and parents, information around various mental health issues and illnesses.
- Mental Health Week 2014 – every day at lunch in school cafeteria (Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School) we engaged students to participate in mental health quizzes that challenged their existing knowledge and perception of mental illness. They were then reward with a timbit. Each day was a different mental illness quiz.
- Created our Mirthful Minds logo.
- Participated as a group in Pride 2014 – had an amazing time supporting YSB staff and youth in this event.
- Created a “Exam Calendar Tool” where students can organize their schedules on one side and access self care tips/study tips on the other side. Tool designed to help students reduce stress and increase mindfulness around exam times. Tool available in student services to access by teachers, support staff, and students within the school.