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Youth4Health and mindyourmind Collaborate to Help Newcomers Become Navigators

March 24, 2011 - Eleven individuals, ranging from the ages of 15-30, worked with the Youth4Health and mindyourmind program to undergo training to become Youth Health Navigators and to collaborate on the development of web based mental health resources. Many personal stories of courage and struggle were shared. As a newcomer, leaving all that one had behind to settle on new land can sometimes create a fist full of struggles. "I've never learned so much about mental illness, and health resources, as much as I've had while working for this project; As a Youth Health Navigator I can help newcomers who are struggling to find a suitable resource. It's a rewarding experience. said Christel, age 17.

As health navigators, youth can help newcomers find and access appropriate health resources in their com-munity. Navigators are: (1) Informed of today's issues and challenges that revolve around newcomers and use this awareness to reach out and empower underserved populations; (2) Conscious of the barriers, stigma, fear and insecurity that a newcomer may face and empathize with these issues when they are helping others; and (3) Apply the knowledge that they have gained through the training to help facilitate access to services.

"My experience becoming a youth health navigator was very laid back, yet whole in knowledge type of experience. My first step is to help those I know when giving advice, and from there, to become more equipped to help strangers as well." says Rezan, age 17.

The team created online mental health resources including ‘The Navigators’ trivia game and ‘What?’, an interactive art piece, sharing positive mental health messages in seven languages. The team hopes that these resources will help address the stigma that newcomers to Canada may face when trying to connect to mental health resources and services. These resources and other games, videos, and teaching tools can be found on the Youth4Health Navigation Toolkit at

Youth4Health is a community-based research initiative led by Dr. Alex Jadad and Dr. Andrea Cortinois of the People, Health Equity, and Innovation (PHI) Group and Dr. Cameron Norman of the Youth Voices Research Group (YVRG). Youth4Health has been made possible through a grant from Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

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