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.
The YAC presented the video below at Children’s Mental Health Ontario 2012 Annual Conference. The video presents the initial vision for the Speak Up Speak Out Project
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.