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#ChangeItUpON Design Group March 2015


mindyourmind staff, youth partners, The New Mentality, The Centre of Excellence on Child and Youth Mental Health and Vanier Children’s Services


The Design Team created 2 tools:  

  1. A youth engagement charter, in the form of a ‘zine called Changing the Path (and a how-to-use Guide)
  2. Be Heard, a paper based, community mapping tool to assist youth in safely reflecting on and describing their pathway in, through and out of services.


Planning started in the fall of 2014. The Design Studio took place in March 2015 and members of the Design Team have stayed involved since then. A test run of the tools in youth services in London and Middlesex  will start in the fall 2015. The tools are being rolled out following the principles of implementation science.


The Change it Up team is made up of young people from London and Middlesex.


Youth play an integral role as partners in the improvement of mental health services that they access!

Youth partners wanted to make changes so that others involved in child and youth systems could have a better experience. The Design Studio focused on how youth want to be included in the decisions made about youth services. We explored what’s worked well and the problems faced by youth in trying to get the help they need.

One youth partner said, “Youth have the potential to make the most change, the only barrier being that we don't get the opportunity to share with people that can help us. I am very excited to get a group of people together and talk about change!”

Youth gained some great skills in co-creating and decision making. One person said, “I’ve learned how different people look at different situations. No matter how slow the process is, the change is happening and you can make the system more positive, accessible and helpful for future youth.”

This process and the tools were built on a solid partnership made of youth experience, research evidence and professional knowledge.

Why’d you get involved?:
  • ... I want to give a voice to those who battle a mental illness or poor mental health everyday and to those youth who are essentially not heard. I want to give hope to those struggling and allow them to believe that recovery is possible, to strive for it and to reach out for help. I know what it is like to struggle, as it is a large part of my daily life and with this involvement it could spark hope in myself and give me a sense of worth and allow me to make a difference, to raise my voice and speak for something that means so much to me.
  • ...I would like to take negative experiences and turn them into something positive. I believe every teen/youth deserves to enjoy a happy life. Everyone deserves an opportunity for help and I would like to be involved in making that opportunity available.
  • I want people to know what services are out there and for them not to go through what I went through
  • I think it’s sick they are trying to make it better. I wanna help out others, kids in a similar situation for myself. I could have benefitted from more services, like a YMCA pass or access to a summer job.
  • ...I’ve been through and around the mental health system for a while now and I really want to help benefit other people who are struggling.
  • I’ve been involved in mental health awareness my whole life, and while I like to keep it more on the down-low recently, I love helping with new projects and events on similar subjects.
  • I want to be involved with this project because I have been a client of a few different agencies in the past couple of years and I would to offer suggestions on improving how the agencies are advertised and found out about.
  • I would like to be involved in this project so that I can help make a positive change and an easier transition for youth who are accessing mental health services.
  • ...I want youth to have a greater involvement and impact on the development of tools and resources that will allow them[youth] to seek help, to increase the efficiency and connection with organizations to youth, and to provide my own knowledge, and experience to help benefit the team.
How would you like to see youth involved in making decisions that impact them?
  • I want people to ask what they want and actually listen to the kids. It’s hard to meet with, and get time with Managers at facilities who can actually make decisions. Ask kids regarding activities, not just force them to participate. I think staff and community supports should be more creative and not just send all these kids to things they aren’t motivated to do. Allow more time for youth and staff to interact 1-1.
  • Surveys in schools are always a nice way to make sure this stuff gets answered, but I’d like to see more youth contribute to the decision making about how funding works and what will be featured in programs.
  • I think that it would be beneficial for youth to be involved in making decisions because after all we’re the one that these decisions will affect. I think there should be more youth leadership conferences that could maybe be run through schools in partnership with mental health agencies to give a voice to the youth and empower them. If youth share about these agencies to other youth it will be more effective than an adult, because youth can relate in other ways. Also youth are very tech smart and know how to get things seen. We are the youth and we know what youth need so should we should have the right to make sure we get what it is that we need.
  • I think the government and agencies should have a youth council to address these concerns and bring forward ideas.
  • I would like youth to be able to stand up for themselves and their rights when given the chance in places such as agencies and government. I would like them to have someone or even more than one person represent them who is in fact a youth and can speak for youth as they share similar feelings and life experiences, who can support teens by voicing what it is really like to live as a teen and struggle as a teen and so decisions are not influenced by the assumptions of adults or what is science. I would like youth to get involved in making decisions by being apart of lectures, discussions and voting and have opportunities to run events and put their input into what is being decided or said. I would like youth to be appointed positions in governments or agencies, be given surveys and questionnaires in schools or online and to run social media responses or initiatives as teens have the world at our fingertips with technology advancements today.
  • Id like to have transitional workers to help with youth and transitions and to make sure that a Program is the right fit for the individual. I'd also like to see youth being more involved in their treatment and plans.
  • I would like to see youth getting involved in activities they love to do. Eg. soccer, art, music etc. I think that if agencies were to involve those activities for the youth they would not only build a bond with a staff they would be doing/ focusing on something that gives them a purpose to keep on fighting to get better. For me, my love is art. Art is my escape, it makes me feel alive. What I'm getting at is that I would like to see youth taking their emotions/experiences out in something they love doing, with the counselling involved.
  • I would like youth to be more involved in decision making through a better channel of communication from the organization, government, or agency regarding the different procedures, knowledge, and practical implications that are being offered or prepared. By this I mean that I want youth to be able to have a better level of communication regarding their own needs and values with the organization.
  • I would like to see them being able to tell people what they need instead of going through trial and error processes with different agencies.
  • I would like to see getting involved with making decisions that impact them by having a voice in anything that directly involves them. I’m not exactly sure what that would look like. I suppose just speaking up and making sure your opinion is heard.
What are your hopes for getting youth involved in social change?
  • I simply hope for people to not be stupid about how they advocate for things and what they say. Other than that, go nuts, I really want people to speak out more and care more.
  • If stuff is bothering other youth we should all get together and talk about it and make a plan. Kids need to be listened to and actually see evidence that what they say actually matters, so see changes because of the ideas shared by the kids.
  • Youth are very "tech smart" and know how to get things seen. Youth have the potential to make the most change, the only barrier being that we don't get the opportunity to share with people that can help us. I am very excited to get a group of people together and talk about change!
  • I hope to get youth to take proactive action towards something that has the potential to further benefit them. By this I mean that I wish to see youth have energy or excitement when it comes to making a change or difference in something like an organization or resource.
  • I hope to get youth to take proactive action towards something that has the potential to further benefit them. By this I mean that I wish to see youth have energy or excitement when it comes to making a change or difference in something like an organization or resource.
  • I have hopes that providing awareness and through groups/councils to discuss changes needed will help engage other youth.
  • I hope for youth to talk positively about the agency they are in. I hope that their positive attitudes/change will reflect off others, and make them aware that they ALL have opportunities to do something different. I hope that they become content with themselves and their life.
  • I hope that if enough youth shout out their views that some agencies and places of power might start looking at how we might feel about what action they put in place.
  • Right now my hopes are small. I just want a club at my school that deals directly with keeping our school safe and educating the student body on various social issues.