YMHC director with mental health advocate and Olympian, Clara Hughes. Photo © Youth Mental Health Canada

mental health canada youth health studentsAn estimated 1.2 million children and youth in Canada are affected by mental illness—yet, less than 20 per cent will receive appropriate treatment.

This is the driving force behind Youth Mental Health Canada. This community-based nonprofit organization aims to ensure that every young person has a path to success through support, mental health education, and strength-based skills development.

Young people aged 15 to 24 are more likely to experience mental illness and/or substance use disorders than any other age group. As Canada’s largest online mental health platform, YMHC has played a significant role in providing top-quality resources and advocating for the needs of students with mental health disabilities. YMHC focuses on providing information, resources, peer support services, research, and programs based on international best practices in mental health and suicide prevention.

Led by Sheryl Boswell, an educator who has taught elementary, secondary, postsecondary, and adult education in Canada and Africa, YMHC works to build an inclusive space for all, while at the same time developing the leadership skills of youth.

With a youth-led board of directors and a youth advisory group made up of volunteers, secondary and post-secondary placement students, YMHC is committed to providing accessible, inclusive, needs-based, culturally sensitive, and trauma-informed tools for wellness and support.

Building a Life Worth Living

YMHC has produced five mental wellness resources: Sources of Support, Sources of Strength, Beneath the Surface Creative Journal Workbook, Mental Wellness Workbook, and In This Together Creative Journal Workbook.

“The mental wellness series from Youth Mental Health Canada is something every young person should have. Like a daily fitness routine, the workbooks provide practices and action steps that can help build the mental muscle of resilience for when hard times hit. They also help youth focus on building a life worth living while also putting a personal safety plan in place for when they are challenged by what life throws their way. The tools and resources embodied in these workbooks are best practices in helping youth build the emotional intelligence they will need to survive and thrive now and in the years ahead,” — Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas, President of United Suicide Survivors International and Board Member of American Association of Suicidology.

Future Plans

In September, YMHC will be launching an exciting new program, a School and Community Peer Support Program. Schools will work with YMHC to provide compassionate wraparound supports and resources to students who are struggling.

YMHC will work with schools to create systems to support students in a variety of ways. The peer support program will complement the services YMHC offers: Compassionate Card Service, Indigenous Compassionate Card Service and the Daily Message of Support. YMHC will provide free downloads of their greeting cards for school peer support teams at registered schools to use.

Driving real and lasting change requires a commitment from all Canadians. We need positive and proactive action that demonstrates the value we place on the lives, health, education, and future of young people. Let’s work with YMHC to make HOPE happen.

You can help Make Hope Happen. Learn more and donate to send mental wellness workbooks to struggling students and communities: ymhc.ngo/mhr

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YMHC is a community-based, youth-led charitable non-profit organization focused on youth, family and community engagement for mental health education, support, advocacy and change.

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