Province and community resources accessible to youth at the click of a button
Be Safe, a free mobile app that connects youth with local mental health and addiction resources, has extended its reach across the province.
When first introduced in 2014, Be Safe serviced the London Middlesex community. The success of the London-specific version of Be Safe sparked interest in other communities across the province and as of June 19, 2015, the app is now connecting youth with provincial resources and community-specific resources in 12 additional regions.
Be Safe was originally developed by a dedicated team of youth, mindyourmind, CAMH’s Provincial System Support Program (PSSP), and other partners in the Systems Improvement through Service Collaboratives initiative in London, Ontario.
The app encourages youth to make and use a customized safety plan, informs them about local mental health and addiction resources, and provides suggestions for community resources based on their level of need, identified through a decision tree. The Be Safe app is complemented by a paper pocket guide, which increases the accessibility of the resource and allows youth to always have back-up information about community services and their safety plan.
Youth Taylor, Inali, Ivy, Kinnery, Trina, Deana, Alicia, and Christel meet with mindyourmind and CAMH for the first time in 2013.
“In expanding resources we’ve made locally, the app now enables users to identify the help they need in a simple way, should they choose to travel outside their current location,” said Taylor Holden, Youth Lead in Partnership Development at mindyourmind. “In expanding Be Safe across Ontario, we’ve taken a good step forward in ensuring that youth are getting the help they need, when and where they need it.”
The communities now included are: Brant, Chapleau, Chatham-Kent, Durham, Great Sudbury, Haldimand-Norfolk, Prince Edward-Hastings, Hamilton, London Middlesex, Manitoulin Island, Sarnia Lambton, Waterloo Wellington, and Windsor Essex County.
Throughout the creation of the original app and the latest revisions, youth have played a vital role. “I think the main reason Be Safe is so popular is that you can see the care and personality that each one of the contributing youth has brought to the project,” said Melissa Taylor-Gates, Project Coordinator at mindyourmind.
The app itself communicates with youth in a way that they are familiar with today. “We use technology as a means to engage youth where they are. We remove a barrier that prevents many youth from getting the help they deserve,” Melissa explains.
“Working with youth members of the London Service Collaborative and the youth partners at mindyourmind has been an incredible learning experience,” said Andrea Flynn, Regional Knowledge Exchange Lead (West Region) at CAMH’s PSSP. “The youth have brought so many skills and strengths to the table, including system knowledge, creativity, and insight into youth needs. This partnership clearly demonstrates that initiatives designed for youth are greatly enhanced by involving them as equal contributors throughout the entire process.”
Brainstorming the provincial and regional expansions of the app, one year later.
“It’s exciting to see the community response to the app. We’ve already confirmed several new regions we hope to add by the end of the year. We also have a French version underway, which will ensure our broader community can better access services,” said Heather Miko-Kelly, mindyourmind’s Youth Projects and Volunteer Coordinator.
Those interested in learning more about the app are invited to view a free training webinar. The latest version of the Be Safe app is available (free) for immediate download for Apple or Android devices from mindyourmind’s Be Safe webpage.