According to Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health, Youth Engagement is a whole community approach to mental health care and an active and ongoing process that embeds youth voice at all levels. It is a set of practices that offer youth opportunities to develop meaningful relationships with adults, learn skills, work on issues they’re passionate about and contribute to social change.
We offer young people a variety of ways to become engaged and participate in developing real, concrete solutions to mental wellness issues that impact them and their community. Please see below for more information on youth engagement opportunities for young people.
At Skylark, we’re proud to be a part of The New Mentality, a network of youth facilitated groups from across Ontario that works with partner agencies in their communities to raise mental health awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding it.
Each year, we hire two youth facilitators to lead a project that aims to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, with the support of a group of youth volunteers and adult allies.
One of our past New Mentality projects was creating Mental Health First Aid Kits. Each kit includes a wonderful youth-made workbook and is available to download and print by clicking here.
Our most recent project was creating Growing Still: The Podcast. The podcast includes youth hosts interviewing youth across Toronto on how adults and caregivers can best talk to young people about mental health. Listen to the podcast on YouTube.
If you’re interested in joining Skylark’s The New Mentality group, email Fiona Lacey.
The Youth Engagement Committee is a great opportunity for youth in our programs to have their voices heard and to affect real change within our agency. Youth meet with staff every other week to lend their thoughts to everything and anything that comes up. Each meeting includes an Open Table section, which gives youth the opportunity to share the important issues facing them today. And each year the group takes on a new project.
Having this voice throughout the agency gives context to the work we do and ensures we’re serving youth the way they need to be served.
If you’re interested in joining the Youth Engagement Committee, email Fiona Lacey.
What is Harm Reduction?
Harm reduction is a set of values and practices, which places the needs and wants voiced by the client at the forefront of their treatment. Harm reduction does not condone or condemn drug use. Rather, it is drug neutral, recognizing that substance use, sex and/or sex work is a reality for many young people. Harm reduction aims to raise awareness of the potential risks of substance use and sex work while actively working to minimize them. In addition, harm reduction seeks to reduce the social, economic and systemic harms that are often associated with drug use, sex and sex work, such as, criminalization, marginalization and discrimination.
What is the Harm Reduction Team?
At Skylark, we believe it is important to provide young people with the education they need to make informed and safe decisions. To this effort, Skylark has created the Peer Youth Harm Reduction Team. Skylark’s Peer Youth Harm Reduction Team is composed of peer youth ages 16-24 who work to support Skylark in creating space for young people to talk about drugs, sex and sex work. The team is responsible for developing and facilitating training’s for Skylark staff about implementing harm reduction in their practice. These training’s reinforce staff capacity to work most effectively with young people who use drugs or engage in sex or sex work from a harm reduction perspective. Supplementary to building agency capacity, the Peer Youth Harm Reduction Team aims to challenge stigma and create awareness about safer practices and strategies through developing resources, providing workshops, as well as, other forms of youth engagement initiatives.
If you’re interested in getting involved with the Peer Youth Harm Reduction Team, email Jordana Rovet.
Check out the latest resources created by the Harm Reduction Team:
‘This Is Not A Phase’ is written by the Harm Reduction Team for those working with and/or supporting young people. Newsletter archive: