Published on July 5th, 2017 | from CAMH

Knowledge Translation:  A cornerstone of youth engagement work

This is the fourth in a series of five blog posts dedicated to youth engagement at CAMH.

By Joshua Miller, Youth Engagement Facilitator, Margaret and Wallace McCain Centre for Child, Youth, and Family Mental Health

Knowledge translation is a key component of our work as Youth Engagement Facilitators. Knowledge translation assists in delivering clear communication when introducing new research, models, stories, or seeking the help of youth in research projects. It can take many forms and may be pursued through different avenues, such as presentations, posters, and awareness campaigns. We use it to clarify the work we do in a way that is accessible to all.

One way we engage the public is through the use of social media. We use social media to share important information or stories on youth engagement and youth mental health. This occasionally takes the form of blogs, such as this one, when we wish to paint a clearer picture of a topic that cannot be articulated in 140 characters on Twitter.

We also develop educational print and online resources for youth, by youth. One example of this is a project conceptualized by one of the Youth Engagement Facilitators aimed at informing youth of key questions to consider asking when approached to participate in research, to help make an informed decision. The tool was shaped by the feedback and participation of from CAMH’s National Youth Advisory Committee (NYAC) members.

We often have the opportunity to present on panels, as part of workshops, or at sessions at conferences such as the Children’s Mental Health Ontario annual conference. Our presentations or participation on panels at these conferences can involve anything from talking about the McCain Centre’s Model for Youth Engagement and how it can apply in different organizations, to talking about new research that incorporates youth engagement strategies, or using our personal experience to emphasize gaps in the mental health system. I have shared my own experiences when it comes to accessing mental health services on a transitional-aged youth panel in Sudbury.

Another method of knowledge translation is to engage others in conversations about youth mental health and youth engagement in mental health, in particular through awareness campaigns. A key example of this would be the #Selfree campaign, which was designed and delivered by youth. #Selfree was designed to fight the stigma associated with mental illness and the perfect image we try to maintain online. This campaign was facilitated by the previous Youth Engagement Facilitators and fully driven by the stories and images of youth from NYAC and beyond.

Our work in knowledge translation and education extends beyond just conference presentations and online awareness campaigns. Finally, our work involves sharing information about our team and the youth engagement practices that we have in place. Professionals in leadership positions, both within and outside of CAMH, who want to see youth engagement strategies applied to their work, need to be informed of the benefits of meaningful youth engagement, as well as what does not work or what might be harmful when engaging youth. We have been able to inform leaders in the mental health and addictions field of the importance of youth engagement by presenting to groups such as CAMH’s Constituency Council. It’s important that we continue to advance knowledge by having key conversations with leaders who can effectively make the changes necessary to benefit youth seeking care.

If you missed it:

Part 1: Youth Engagement at CAMH

Part 2: Youth Engagement at a CAMH Conference

Part 3: Youth Engagement in Research

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