In the first article of this series, we introduced the concept of youth engagement and began to talk about what youth engagement facilitators (YEFs) do within our roles. Continuing that conversation, a vital part of the work we do stems from our involvement in important research at CAMH. This involvement takes a few different shapes, including acting as key advisors to projects underway, or leading our own research projects.
In our role as YEFs we are active team members in ongoing research projects at CAMH, including YouthCan IMPACT—a study that seeks to understand the benefits of integrated collaborative care teams (ICCTs) in delivering services to youth. We are core team members on the study, along with health leaders, researchers, nurse practitioners and family members. We provide the youth voice on all aspects of the study. Additionally, we also facilitate the study’s youth advisory group, which provides key perspectives of youth who have experience using mental health services, to recommend changes and voice concerns around elements in the ICCT model that may act as obstacles in serving young clients.
In addition to participating as team members on studies, we also develop and lead our own research initiatives such as Wellness Quest. Wellness Quest is a national project of the CAMH’s National Youth Advisory Committee (NYAC). The research team for this project is comprised solely of youth, while adult allies who are experienced researchers are available to act as consultants. The goal of this project is to help youth understand the services that might be available, and provide them with what they need to advocate for the services that may fit them best. The research team plans to pilot the resources created through focus groups and online surveys, analyze the data collected, and write a manuscript for publication to be shared with organizations across Canada.
Additionally, we are asked to be consultants to other studies or organizations that seek to inform the work they are doing involving youth. Similar to our role in the YouthCan IMPACT study, we provide an informed youth perspective, where we recommend or suggest important changes that need to be made to the project or research study to ensure it is as youth-friendly, accessible and engaging as possible.
All the research and related work we do helps us achieve our goal of shaping positive new developments in the mental health care system for children, youth and adolescents. We work towards ensuring that youth mental health studies and service delivery are being informed by the perspectives of those who will be using the services or impacted directly by studies being conducted. Youth engagement in research is therefore critical to direct system change, as we become involved at the ground-level of change.
If you missed it:
Part 1: Youth Engagement at CAMH
Part 2: Youth Engagement at a CAMH Conference