2.2 Developing Your YMHAC Team

At the heart of the YMHAC Initiative is teamwork. You’ll depend on motivated participants who each bring a unique perspective and voice to the program—especially youth. Here’s a step-by-step guide to finding and organizing passionate team members.

Step #1: Develop Your Implementation Team

WHAT Your Implementation Team is a core team that is responsible for leading the planning, implementation and evaluation of the YMHAC Initiative. This team (also called the Project Team/Committee) can be either an internal team comprised of staff from your organization, or an external team comprised of staff from your organization, local school boards, schools and community organization members (see Step #2: Identify Your Stakeholders).

To determine if your Implementation Team should be an internal team or external team, you will need to consider your context, organization and local community factors.

WHO Members of the internal or external Implementation Team should include leadership from management (e.g., direct supervisor, principals, superintendents) and front-line staff (e.g., public health nurses, health promotion officers, School Mental Health ASSIST Leads and teachers) and Youth Leads (see 3.1). A common element among effective Implementation Teams is good representation from each sector.

WHY The role of the Implementation Team is to provide support in YMHAC implementation. Roles may include reviewing the logic model and work plan and signing up for responsibilities, recruiting participating schools and youth, recruiting and supporting the local steering committee, training, supporting youth in leading youth- led health promotion initiatives, evaluation, etc. You may wish to determine a terms of reference to help guide the team in understanding their role and responsibilities.

Integrate Youth Voice! Young people are integral to your YMHAC team. Seek out opportunities to include their voices at every stage.

Step #2: Identify Your Stakeholders

After you have recruited an Implementation Team, your next task will be to work with your Implementation Team to identify and develop a comprehensive list of key stakeholders in the YMHAC Initiative. Engagement of stakeholders—individuals, groups, and/or organizations that have a vested interest in YMHAC—play an essential role in the change process and need to be involved throughout the various phases of the Initiative in order for the program to be a success.

Internal stakeholders are from within the organization and can include leadership, front line staff and people with lived experience and youth.

Interface stakeholders operate across organizational and environmental boundaries, and include board members and staff with cross appointments.

External stakeholders operate outside the organization and can include organizations such as the RNAO, School Mental Health ASSIST, accreditation bodies, community agencies, youth groups, local teams, school boards, schools and community.

It is important to identify all types of stakeholder to understand who may have a vested interest in your initiative (RNAO, 2015). Work with your Implementation Team to collect information that helps you understand your stakeholders.

You may consider developing surveys, focus groups or individual interviews with key influential personnel to help you identify stakeholders who would be supportive to implementation. Here are potential questions to ask.

  • What are the school board local strategic directions we should be aware of and how do they align with the YMHAC Initiative?
  • What is the local strategic mental health plan in your school board? How do we ensure alignment and safeguards?
  • What other strategic plans should we be aware of?
  • Do you have suggestions on how to align the YMHAC Initiative to these plans?
  • Who are other key influential stakeholders in the local health unit, school boards, school and community we may want to connect with?

You may also consider developing a script and/or promotional materials for stakeholders so they are all receiving consistent information regarding the YMHAC Initiative.

Step #3: Analyze Stakeholder Influence and Support

A stakeholder analysis should be conducted after you’ve identified your team. The goal of a stakeholder analysis is to maximize congruence between stakeholder interests and the goals of the implementation, in other words, minimize risks associated with stakeholder non-support.

Your stakeholder analysis should consider the vested interest of individual stakeholders, their level of influence and support for the proposed YMHAC Initiative, and the factors that may facilitate buy-in. Stakeholder analysis can also help in minimizing risks of non- support by providing the Implementation Team the knowledge of what may impede project implementation. Using the data collected in your stakeholder analysis, appropriate strategies for stakeholder engagement can be developed. For example, stakeholder analysis can provide the Implementation Team with knowledge of potential project implementation hurdles.

How to get school endorsement! Getting local superintendents to recommend that a particular school participate in YMHAC carries a lot of clout. Therefore, stakeholder influence and support should include mention of the “ buy in” from schools. in boards, schools selection should be recommended in conjunction with local superintendent.

For more information on stakeholders and stakeholder analysis, please refer to the RNAO Toolkit: Implementation of Best Practice Guidelines: Second Edition (2012).

Step #4: Develop a Local Steering Committee

Once the stakeholder analysis is complete, you need to engage other individuals to provide their expertise and direction to the YMHAC Initiative. In the YMHAC pilot project, local sites formed a local steering committee to work closely with the Implementation Team and provide high level strategic advice in the implementation and evaluation of the Initiative, as well as networking and promotional support. Networking and promotional support can come from internal, interface and external stakeholders.

Consider if there are existing structures in place that can help support the implementation of the YMHAC Initiative or whether a new local steering committee needs to be formed. In our pilot, we found that integrating the  steering  committee  into  existing  structures provided  support  for  sustainability of the Initiative.

Composition of a local steering committee may include individuals from health, education and community services. The local steering committee also must include youth participation to ensure the Initiative has the youth voice present. A terms of reference will help guide the overall objectives, meeting frequency and responsibilities of each member; a sample terms of reference can be modified as needed.

Implementation team versus steering committee: what’s the difference? The implementation team is the core group responsible for day-to-day initiative activities. The steering committee may involve members of the implementation team, plus other community members, including youth and school board members, for example. it acts in an advisory capacity providing high-level program implementation direction and advice. depending on the breadth of resources in your region, it is possible that the implementation team and steering committee are composed of the same stakeholders.

Spot Quiz: Build the Best Team Possible

  • Is your Implementation Team an internal or external team?
  • Does your Implementation Team have support from leadership/management and front line staff?
  • Is your Implementation Team interdisciplinary?
  • Is there youth on your Implementation Team or local steering committee? What is their role?
  • Are there current existing structures in place that could support implementation of the YMHAC Initiative (i.e., committees that could function as a local steering committee)?
  • Are there current groups that meet to discuss youth led initiatives and/or mental health initiatives? If so, would they be willing to integrate the project into their work plan on a long-term basis to ensure sustainability? And what would this group’s role be?
  • What is the strategic mental health plan or other strategic plans that the Implementation Team should be aware of? What are the goals and objectives of the plans and how do we align the YMHAC Initiative within these plans?
  • How do we develop meaningful connections with public health sites, school boards, and schools?