Preventative Mental Health Support for Youth during the Pandemic and Beyond: How can we help each other?

Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care

The project aims to develop, implement, and evaluate a preventative program to improve the mental health and well-being of youth. This project focuses on working in partnership with and supporting marginalized populations, including youth who are Indigenous, racialized, or from rural or low-income households. The project incorporates co-design models with diverse stakeholders (e.g., parents, teachers, clinicians, youth) to address power imbalances, barriers to care and create a culturally safe program. We partner with youth-serving organizations across a large region featuring remote, rural and underserved communities and build an innovative and equitable infrastructure. Specifically, we will provide technological equipment, educational materials and program manuals, and trained facilitators, enabling a sustainable and scalable preventative program by and for youth.


Soyeon Kim
Dr. Soyeon Kim (she/her) is a Research Scientist at Waypoint and Assistant Clinical Professor at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University. Dr. Kim's research to date has culminated in 13 published and two under peer-review papers. She has contributed to evidence that has a direct impact on new policies, practices, and programs to reduce mental health problems in youth. Dr. Kim's expertise in quantitative research is highly relevant to this project, and she has applied various analytic methodologies in her interdisciplinary research (e.g., structural equation modeling, multilevel modeling, longitudinal data analysis, and moderation/mediation analysis).

Shavon Stafford
Ms. Shavon Stafford is currently pursuing a career in clinical psychology with a focus on the forensic population. She has also been contributing as a youth lead for a research project working with Dr. Kim at Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care. She is a recent graduate of Carleton University. While attending Carleton, she achieved a BSc Honours with high distinction in Psychology. Currently, she is studying Addictions and Mental Health at Algonquin College to further advance her knowledge, skills, and passion for mental health care.  

Holly Archer
Holly Archer is a communications and fund development specialist with nearly 10 years of experience in the mental health and addiction sector. Holly has supported the Waypoint Research Institute and programs across Waypoint to acquire funding, establish partnerships, communicate with media outlets and the general public, host educational events, and develop and implement knowledge translation strategies. Holly has a Master of Arts degree in Public Administration from the University of Ottawa and a dual degree in English Literature and Theatre from Queen’s University. Holly is a founding member of the Our Health Series, a televised program providing health information and education, and is currently training to become a Mindfulness Facilitator.

Key takeaways

  • Program: youth resiliency… came from a program that was a mindfulness tool for frontline workers working remotely during pandemic; very successful and reused for youth
  • Seeking to support youth facing system barriers, power imbalances, barriers to care, and creating a culturally safe program
  • Seek to create edu materials, manuals and training to roll out a sustainable and scalable intervention program
  • Seeking to work with the community to create something that is most useful. Welcome stakeholders to co-develop this, so welcome reach outs
  • Using a co-design model for the project, highlighting

Key Learning Objectives (defined by presenters)

  1. Provide our strategies and plans to develop and provide preventative mental health support for youth considering equity, accessibility, inclusivity and diversity through youth and family engagement
  2. Discuss our youth engagement plans and co-design approach. We will actively engage with the audience to discuss ways to support each other and improve youth mental health support systems. For example, we are working to provide the program to marginalized youth who are at-risk for mental health issues and face barriers to accessing mental health support, including but not limited to youth who are Indigenous, racialized, or from rural or low-income households. We will begin with the North Simcoe Muskoka area. We will collaborate with partners such as North Simcoe Youth Wellness Hub's youth engagement team and Frayme's Groundbreakers to promote the opportunity and recruit youth with diverse backgrounds including racial/ethnic minority groups

Key Themes

  1. Co-design approach
  2. Preventative mental health

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