The YMHAC Initiative seems complex but it’s actually straightforward. It uses a peer-led, multi-stakeholder, multi-component model, in which Youth Leads work with their local public health unit, district school boards and schools to mentor Youth Champions to plan, implement, and evaluate local youth engagement activities within their schools and communities.
The YMHAC Initiative incorporates five main components.
- Orientation training for Youth Leads and Adult Leads (Public Health Leads, School Staff Leads and Mental Health Leads).
- Foundational training for Youth Leads.
- Development of Youth Champion cohort at the school level.
- Program promotion and communication.
- Partner collaboration and networking, and support and capacity building.
The Initiative’s success hinges on adequate training, and that’s why the Youth Leads participate in a minimum of five hours of orientation training and full-day of foundational training at the outset of the program to learn about mental health promotion, stigma reduction, substance misuse prevention, youth facilitation and leadership techniques, and how to work with Youth Champions. The Youth Champions then participate in a similar training, facilitated by the Youth Leads. The focus of this training is to develop local youth engagement activities designed to promote mental health, reduce stigma, and improve knowledge and awareness concerning substance misuse and its prevention.