Submitted by the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO)
Part of our series on the Youth Mental Health and Addiction Champion Initiative (YMHAC)
Ontario’s public health units and school boards share the challenge of developing and promoting effective and collaborative youth mental health campaigns that reach key stakeholders in the health, education and youth social service sectors.
To help, the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) partnered with public health units, school boards, School Mental Health ASSIST and provincial youth-based organizations in Ontario to develop a peer-based youth mental health initiative.
The Youth Mental Health and Addiction Champion (YMHAC) Initiative aims to improve the health and well-being of children and youth through a focus on mental health promotion, stigma reduction and the prevention of substance misuse.
The initiative, in addition to demonstrating how partnerships across sectors can support youth mental health, highlights the leadership role of public health nurses and school mental health leads in supporting youth mental health in school communities.
YMHAC trained youth as mental health ambassadors, using a comprehensive school health approach and youth engagement principles. Youth learned strategies that can increase awareness of mental well-being and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. This will help foster supportive, resilient and inclusive school environments.
The YMHAC initiative was greeted with an overwhelming response from public health units and the education sector; this is why the RNAO and its partners developed the YMHAC Toolkit to help expand the reach of this work.
The toolkit provides users with a full understanding of the YMHAC initiative as well as practical advice on how to build a team, youth training, event planning and evaluation. For adults or youth seeking a brighter future for young Canadians, the YMHAC toolkit will help users be better informed, inspired and involved in helping to create resilient communities.