Registered Canadian Charitable Organization number: 799576335RR0001
We are a multi-faith, BIPOC group of dedicated educators, youth, university students and humanitarians from across Canada who decided that our responsibility to children, youth and university students involved caring about their emotional and psychological, mental health, as well as their physical wellbeing so that learning could be achieved and students could reach their full potential.
We, as Educators, learned very quickly in our careers that we needed to create a safe, accepting, and engaging space within our classrooms free of the stress, discrimination, emotional turmoil and trauma which negatively affects and prevents learning. Our commitment became to work with parents, professionals, and most importantly, our students to educate and increase awareness of mental health challenges for children, youth and university students.
Our National Collaboration for Youth Mental Health was an unincorporated, grassroots organization established in 2002, which relied on various donations from staff of large organizations and the kindness of professionals who volunteered and provided their professional services for free. The donations were monetary, the sponsoring of event room rentals for mental health summits and forums, and the donations of room rentals for our events. We are also grateful for the outpouring of volunteers from a wide spectrum of organizations. The Arts communities across Canada and the United States have given our National Collaboration immense support, which led to performers, such as LeCrae donating their time and performances to our Youth summits and forums.
Thanks to the commitment of Bell Canada we are now able to plan our National Mental Health Youth Conferences for ages 12 to 30. The first National Conference has been designed and planned with a great deal of research, care, passion and community outreach. It launched on May 16, 2019, at the University of Ottawa. Our youth committees have been involved in every aspect of planning for the National Conferences. The National Youth Mental Health Conference Flyer was inspired by 13-year-old Alex from Ottawa and designed collaboratively by 18-year-old university student McCory from Calgary.
As a result of our recent Youth focus group held in Ottawa in March 2019, our members decided that there was a very serious and immediate need to raise awareness of the mental health in classrooms and in our larger society, in order to support the wellbeing of our youth, their families and their future careers within society. The youth we work with have voiced in classrooms, forums and our information meetings how mental health challenges are overwhelming them in every aspect of their lives and affecting not only them but their family members, friends and everyone they come into contact with during their attempts to navigate through their life.
Many children and youth are misdiagnosed, or their symptoms are not noticed, even by doctors, therefore, they are left untreated. Our National organization enlists and works with over two million children, youth and young adults each year in our capacity as educators across Canada. Our youth committees throughout Canada want to participate in an initiative, which actively seeks and includes their voice. We as educators believe that heightened, consistently updated, relevant and current programs and materials, which originate from children and youth is the only way to prevent the substantial trauma with mental illness that is permeating our society today.
We asked our youth volunteers and interns to come up with new ideas for challenging the pervasive and ever-changing mental health challenges. The youth came up with the idea of holding mental health conferences with keynote speakers who have overcome their mental issues. This cooperative planning by our students resulted in conference agendas which include art, music, small groups and speakers, with the anticipated outcome of encouraging youth to move forward in the many diverse paths they choose for future education and careers. The conference goal is to also motivate them to feel that they all belong which is why our logo indicates “you are not alone”.
We want our youth to feel that they are not alone. As educators who are committed to increasing awareness of mental health in classrooms throughout Canada; we welcome students with mental health challenges having access to us on a daily basis and will continue to work with a team of regularly updated and currently recommended psychologists and experts who will really listen to our youth and help them in a manner which validates, reaffirms their self worth and raises them up to a higher level.
Our National Collaboration’s commitment to youth has been demonstrated by our decision to have our National Collaboration’s logo inspired and created by 13-year-old Alex from Ottawa and the subsequent flyer designed by both Alex and 18-year old McCory from Calgary.