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CAMH Stories Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

Youth engagement—by and for youth—at CAMH

​By the McCain Centre Youth Engagement Team

TORONTO, May 5, 2017 - Flexibility, mentorship and authentic decision-making: these are the pillars of a youth-adult partnership, as well as the foundation of the youth engagement team at CAMH’s Margaret and Wallace McCain Centre for Child, Youth & Family Mental Health (McCain Centre). For Mental Health Week this year, we wanted to share how we #GETLOUD in support of youth mental health, and why the youth voice is so important to mental health research and service delivery.

Our McCain Centre youth engagement team brings the youth perspective to many research projects.  For example, we are members of the core team, providing leadership to YouthCan IMPACT—a study that seeks to understand the benefits of integrated collaborative care teams (ICCTs) in delivering services to youth, along with health leaders, researchers, nurse practitioners and family members. We bring the youth voice to all aspects of the study. Additionally, we facilitate the study’s youth advisory group, which provides key perspectives of youth who have experience using mental health services. This group voices concerns and makes important recommendations for changes about elements in the ICCT model that may act as obstacles when serving young clients.

Youth engagement team
The youth engagement team at CAMH’s McCain Centre.

Additionally, we lead our own projects, like Wellness Quest. The goal of this project is to help youth understand the services that are available in their communities, and provide them with information they need to advocate for the services that would fit them best. Our youth research team plans to pilot the resources we created through focus groups and online surveys, analyze the data collected, and write a manuscript for publication to be shared with organizations across Canada.

To learn more about our work, please read recent blogs we’ve written about youth engagement:


A key part of the team’s work is to help in the presentation and knowledge translation of new research and bring awareness to important issues in the system affecting youth that require attention. An important part of knowledge translation work is making research information accessible to youth. For instance, to engage youth in the work that is ongoing at CAMH, we recently invited and connected with youth who attended the Cundill Centre conference.

Our team is made up of four youth engagement facilitators—Emma McCann, Jackie Relihan, Joshua Miller, and a new member coming on board shortly—and adult allies, including Sam Docherty, youth engagement initiative coordinator, the McCain Centre’s Director, Dr. Joanna Henderson, and Gloria Chaim, Head of Community Engagement and Partnerships. We are a small but mighty team, and we don’t work alone—we are connected with a whole network of passionate youth mental health advocates from across the country: the National Youth Advisory Committee (NYAC).

Stay tuned as we are working with NYAC to re-brand and re-structure so that we are more streamlined and are better able to engage youth in the topics they are interested in. Watch for an exciting announcement in June with our new name and look. We will also be doing a call for new youth members to join our team. If you have any questions please connect with our team through the coordinator, Sam Docherty, at

To read more about youth-adult partnerships and the model of youth engagement at the McCain Centre, check out a recently published article, “Implementation of a youth-adult partnership in mental health systems research.


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Improving care with a mobile app for youth

CAMH researchers and partners are creating an app to deliver a better treatment experience for youth with depression or anxiety.

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