Taking the Lead: the Youth Facilitator Experience

Provincial Addiction and Mental Health portfolio within Alberta Health Services has created a provincial council for youth who have lived experience with addiction and/or mental health issues. This council is called YAMH PAC (Youth Addiction and Mental Health Provincial Advisory Council) where the youth serve as advisors to share their voice on matters related to addiction and mental health. The youth advisors also have the opportunity to facilitate conversations with their peers and take the lead at council meetings. Professional development, mentorship and skill-building are just some of the benefits young advisors have shared as positive benefits for their involvement with YAMH PAC. Involvement in ad-hoc meetings and consultations have also led to opportunities for youth to engage in research projects and paid opportunities for sharing their lived and living experience as subject matter experts. The purpose of this workshop is to showcase how youth take the lead and provide insight on what it takes to become successful youth facilitators

Presenters and slide deck

Faria Khan

Faria Khan has been working in healthcare for over 7 years. She completed her Master’s in Public Health and is now working in Mental Health and Addictions for Alberta Health Services. Her focus lies on improving opioid-related treatments and services for youth by engaging with youth with lived experience, families and service providers across Alberta. She is currently involved in different Provincial and National projects to address the on-going opioid crisis affecting youth through the Improving Treatment Together Project and the At-Risk Youth and Newer Users project for CRISM (Canadian Research Initiatives on Substance Misuse).

Linda Kongnetiman

Linda Kongnetiman, BSW, MSW, PhD, RSW, is currently the Provincial Manager Information and Child, Youth & Family Initiatives Standards, Alberta Health Services. Her training and research interest focus on preparing professionals for working in global contexts. She conducts training and workshops in anti-oppressive practice, racialization, cultural competency in health and addiction and mental health, impact of culture and health among a few. She is an Instructor and Adjunct Field Professor for the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary. Linda is also a recipient of the Peoples First award in the Calgary Health Region as well as the Pulse of Social Work, Advocacy Award, 2009. She holds a Bachelor of Social Work degree from the Academy for Higher Education in Arts and Culture in Suriname and both a Master of Social Work and PhD in Social Work degree from the University of Calgary.

Jacob Dunn

Jacob is a long-time patient advisor and has experience supporting youth voice in the education and healthcare systems. As a youth, Jacob worked with the Edmonton Public School Board to develop a grassroots student engagement model to identify and act on challenges facing our education system. Later, Jacob’s experiences as a patient living with chronic illness drove him to join the Stollery Children’s Hospital Youth Advisory Council, where he saw the potential for youth voices to drive change in the hospital community. Now that Jacob is in university, he focuses on mentoring new advisors to discover their voices and role as healthcare leaders. Most recently, Jacob has worked alongside Alberta Health Services (AHS) to create a Youth Addictions and Mental Health Patient Advisory Council (YAMH PAC) where youth feel safe to share their stories and experiences to drive change in addiction and mental health care.

Katelyn Greer

Katelyn struggled most of her youth with mental wellness. Through her recovery journey and lived experience she has chosen to use her story to help others. She is especially passionate about working with youth struggling with their mental health. She currently is a Mentor for The Peer School for Youth.


If anyone in Alberta ages 12-29 would like to join the Youth Addiction and Mental Health Provincial Advisory Council or would like to learn more about the council, please email informationandcyfistandards@ahs.ca

Key Learnings

  • Including the subject matter expertise of youth with lived and living experiences is important when supporting youth.
  • Having youth as leaders and taking the lead is extremely valuable for them and for organizations that serve youth.
  • It is important as organizations to develop ideas of how to engage youth and adopt youth-friendly practices.

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.