The Youth Action Committee (YAC) is a provincial advisory committee, made up of youth aged 16-25 who work to reduce stigma and improve mental health services for children and youth through youth-led policy recommendations. The YAC identifies a major issue youth experiencing mental health difficulties in Ontario are facing and sets out to find out how youth think we can solve these complex issues. Following province wide youth consultations, the YAC works with Children’s Mental Health Ontario’s (CMHO) policy team to generate youth-led policy recommendations. The group works together to deliver findings and recommendations to stakeholders responsible for change.
The Youth Action Committee ensures that the voices of youth across the province are acknowledged, respected and taken seriously, driving change within the system and raising a unique and valuable voice.
At the 2018 CMHO Conference, The Youth Action Committee (YAC) released their third youth-led policy paper, From Crisis to Quality, a policy paper 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 will be releasing policy recommendations for the Ontario Provincial Government.
In 2019, the YAC will continue to work on their project from Crisis to Quality. The focus of the 2019 committee will be to work with service providers and government to implement the youth-led recommendations from the project.
2019 Youth Action Committee Members
Kaitlinn Gammon, Co-Chair, Sudbury
Victoria Kaulback, Co-Chair, Hamilton
Lily Yosieph, London
Amanda McGraw, Windsor
Victoria Corbett, Sault Ste Marie
Jaydon Turgeon, Carlton Place
Lewis Han, Ottawa
Aly Vaillancourt, Guelph
- Waiting for Change In 2015, the YAC identified wait times as a major issue facing children and youth in Ontario. In response, the YAC hosted its inaugural Youth Mental Health Summit, Waiting for Change. The goal of the summit was to engage youth in the creation of specific policy recommendations to improve wait times for mental health services and to better support, children, youth and families when they are unable to access the treatment they need. To learn more about the event check out our photo’s, community poem, and event recap. After two years of collecting stories and youth-led recommendations from other young people across the province they created a Zine to outline four recommendations for how we can make change happen: two ideas to shorten wait times and two ideas for helping youth manage while they wait for services.
- Beyond The Abyss In 2013, two committee members Bri Parks and Emily Campbell came up with the idea to produce a CD that allowed youth in Ontario to share their experience with mental health through music. Youth wrote original songs and YAC member Emma McCann created the cover art. The CD was titled Beyond The Abyss, all processed were donated back to the committee to support the Speak Up Speak Out Project.
- The Speak Up Speak Out Project In 2012, the YAC identified mental health in the education system as a major issue facing children and youth in Ontario. They created the Speak Up, Speak Out Project to identify how schools could better support youth with mental health and addiction issues and increase their success in overcoming personal struggles. Through surveys, focus groups, a video contest, and individual submissions over 300 youth, aged 11 to 25, took part in the project. Through the information gathered provincially the YAC created Children’s Mental Health Ontario’s first youth-led policy paper, Building a Better School Environment for Youth with Mental Health and Addiction Issues. YAC members presented the paper at many different conferences and workshops including to all the mental health leads in schools in Ontario. They created a video outlining how to implement recommendation 3.2 how to provide a safe space in schools (see below). Recommendations from this report are currently being implemented into schools.
- Mental Health Awareness Toolkit In 2009 YAC members developed and distributed a 'Mental Health Toolkit' which consisted of creative ideas and activities to engage high school students in talking about mental health and reducing stigma.
The Youth Action Committee is proudly supported by