SOUND OFF: A Youth-led Initiative
TORONTO (January 29, 2014) Young people in Ontario now have a new way to voice their concerns and change the way mental health issues are dealt with in their communities.
Last week the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario (SSO) launched SOUND OFF, a youth-led initiative aimed at empowering and mobilizing youth by collecting and sharing their opinions on what is – and isn’t – working when it comes to mental health.
Students, youth workers and advocates gathered at the University of Toronto as the SSO unveiled PSAs and a new website that will help young people play a more active role in the mental health system. The first step of the project is to gather youth perspectives through educational outreach, and a new website where youth from across Ontario can anonymously share their opinions on what is working well, and what can be improved, to support their mental health in their schools, communities, and media. The goal is to move past the stigma that often surrounds mental health issues, especially when many people try to talk about their experiences with family, friends, or at school.
The next step will be transforming these perspectives, with the help of youth who wish to participate in the SOUND OFF program, into specific policies and actions that will transform approaches to youth mental health in Ontario. By placing youth at the centre of conversations about their mental health, the hope is to make their needs a primary focus of the mental health system, and transform programs and services accordingly.