In November 2016 our provincial Youth Action Committee (YAC) met with Minster of Children and Youth Services, Micheal Coteau to discuss their newly released Zine, Waiting For Change. The Waiting for Change Zine is a collection of personal stories and youth-led policy recommendations to address the issue of wait times in the child and youth mental health system. To view the full Zine Click Here.
Minister Coteau sat down with members of The YAC to hear first hand how young people are currently experiencing the child and youth mental health system and to go over the recommendations to reduce wait times in Ontario. YAC members left with a feeling of hope and optimism that their voices were heard and feel confident child and youth mental health is a top priority for Minister Coteau. They look forward to future discussions with the Minister.
On November 30, Minister Coteau released a statement supporting the youth-led recommendations outlined in the Waiting for Change Zine. The New Mentality firmly believes that youth with mental illness must contribute to creating a better mental health system. Without their voice are system will never meet the needs of our young people. We are very encouraged to see Minister Coteau’s commitment to youth voice in the mental health system.
“We will continue to relay on the advice from young people and their families, from our Indigenous partners and from our independent officers of the legislature, such as the Auditor General, to develop a responsive system that positions all kids for success. In fact, just last week, I had the pleasure of meeting with young people from the New Mentality Youth Action Committee — a group of bright, engaging individuals from across the province who are working hard to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. I support the committee’s recommendations contained in Waiting for Change, as they will go a long way towards helping shape a stronger system in Ontario.”
Before the release of the Waiting for Change Zine, TNM staff Caralyn Quan and Mary-Anne Leahy met with the Ontario Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, Irwin Elman, to give him a sneak peak of the Zine. We were again very encouraged by his positive response and support of the youth-led recommendations.
We are so proud of all the work our Youth Action Committee has done over the past two years to make this project happen. Under the leadership of 2015 Committee Chair Amanda Suleiman, 2016 Co-Chairs Nicole D’Souza and Beth Nowosad, and committee members, Matthew Leaton, Travis Franklin, Shannon Nagy, Chizara Anucha, Cherish Bluecoat, and Sabrina Gollan these young people proved once again what youth can do when given the right tools and support to amplify their voices.
To have the Minister of Children and Youth Services, Micheal Coteau and the Provincial Advocate Irwin Elman support the recommendations outlined by youth in this Zine sends a powerful message to young people across Ontario that the system is listening and that their voices matter.