Understanding Youth Mental Health from Lived Experience


Trained youth facilitators provide an interactive session for participants to better understand how they can support youth. The session includes youth sharing their personal stories and facilitating a brief discussion/Q&A.
Participants will gain:

  • A deepened understanding of issues relevant to youth mental health in today’s world
  • Tips on creating a safe space for youth to talk
  • List of resources 


Una Wright
Una Wright brings a wealth of experience related to mental health within her family. She is the Founder / Executive Director of YouthSpeak Performance Charity (www.youthspeak.ca) that was inspired by her lived experience. Built on a B.A. in Social Development Studies, a certificate in Social Work, Una is trained in a number of modalities related to mental health, neurobiology, trauma and equity. She includes researched-backed coping tools and learning components in all of her work to supports positive mental health and overall well-being.

Sometimes something so bone-shaking happens to us that it creates a timestamp on our lives. We might see it as, ‘my life before x,’ and, ‘my life after x’. Unfortunately, I experienced quite a few of these moments in my life; Trauma after trauma, for what felt like years on end. After escaping from a dangerous situation in my youth, I began my journey of recovery. It took years of self-advocacy to find the correct diagnosis, but once I did and began the right treatment, I found hope at the end of the tunnel. I began to learn coping strategies and how to set healthy boundaries. I learned that it’s okay to say no, and it’s okay to move at my own pace. Most importantly, I learned to accept myself as I am. I hope that by sharing my story I can empower others to advocate for themselves and find the self-acceptance that we all deserve. Recovery might not be a straight line, but it is always possible.”

Ask for help in the areas in which you need to change. Once you get the help you need, put your hand out and try to help others. For a very long time, everything in my life was difficult. Dealing with depression and anxiety had me turning to any possible external source to try to cure my feelings of not being good enough. No matter if it was food, social media/entertainment, or other negative coping skills. I was an over-consumer because it helped me forget about how I felt; that was until I decided to finally get help for my underlying issues of low self-esteem. Today, I reach out for help in communities of people that do their best to help, along with therapy. Beyond that, I do my best to try and help people in whichever way that I can; this alone has made me feel a part of a world I felt like I never fit in.

Key takeaways

  • We need to bridge the gap between youth and adults, so youth can speak up on how they feel and what they need without fear of judgment or invalidation
  • Boundaries, support, awareness, and creating a safe space are important to foster this connection

Key Learning Objectives (defined by presenters)

  1. Identify the “dos and don’ts” of authentic youth and family engagement and how to apply them in a meaningful way
  2. Recognize and advocate for meaningful and authentic youth and caregiver engagement.

Subscribe to Frayme
Stay up-to-date with Frayme and network opportunities through our newsletter, OnPoint. 

Join our Network
Network partners work alongside Frayme or other network partners in order to transform youth mental health and substance use services in Canada. Access the evidence, resources and tools you need to take action.