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CHEO-PAR Design Lab, Spring/Summer 2023

CHEO-PAR Design Lab


This Design Lab was a partnership between mindyourmind, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Research Institute, and the Knowledge Institute on Child and Youth Mental Health and Addictions. The project aimed to co-design knowledge tools based on insights gained from a Participatory Action Research (PAR) study focusing on how awareness and access to mental health services for youth and caregivers in Ontario have changed since the COVID-19 pandemic. The PAR study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and engaged youth and caregivers who had firsthand experience accessing mental health services. Thank you to Alisha, Ellen, Elora, Erin, Raissa, and Sarah for their involvement and contributions to this project!


The PAR research study aimed to understand the post-COVID-19 experiences of youth and caregivers in Ontario concerning mental health and addiction services to ultimately create a responsive service plan. The Design Lab's goal was to co-design Knowledge Translation (KT) products that would resonate with the research findings. Through the Design Lab, it was identified that the KT products should focus on two main areas: assisting youth and their caregivers in assessing the suitability of services and increasing awareness of available services and supports.  

What, When and Where

Over the course of several months, we conducted seven Design Lab sessions via Zoom with a group of youth and caregivers from across Ontario who were already part of the PAR study. Through meaningful discussion and innovation, we co-designed a set of informative, empowering, and actionable toolkits. Each one was tailored to the unique needs of youth and caregivers and contained helpful infographics and worksheets such as: "Creating My Support Network", "Is This ___ Good for Me?" and "Pause, Reflect, and Act". These resources are intended to assist in finding services based on needs, exploring available services, and connecting with appropriate support systems.

You can complete each element electronically and download or print each and fill out by hand.

For more information look at the PARticipating in My Mental Health Care: An Overview of the PAR Research Project

A French version is coming soon, so stay tuned!