We support student leaders from across Canada to raise awareness surrounding mental health and break the culture of stigma that causes young people to struggle in silence. We work with our students to identify their community-specific needs, and to advocate for the changes they most want to see and feel will be most impactful and appropriate.
To achieve this, we train young leaders to start effective mental health conversations so that they can bring people, who otherwise may not have spoken openly about mental health, into the conversation. The more that mental health is talked about amongst community members, the more “normal” help seeking behaviour becomes. Beyond addressing cultural barriers, we also train our students to assess the level of services available in their community. When appropriate services are inaccessible or unavailable, we support student leaders to collaborate with community partners and forge sustainable, youth-led solutions to get young people the care they deserve.
Considering cultural, social, and structural forces that keep young people struggling in silence, we provide students with the tools and support necessary for them to raise awareness and advocate for change.
All 3 of our programs are grounded in sound and reliable evidence. Our approach utilizes a variety of evidence-based strategies - including contact-based education, peer-to-peer outreach, and community capacity building - in order to ensure that our programs achieve their intended results.
Contact-based education involves people with lived experiences of mental health struggles appropriately sharing their personal stories to engage audiences and break down barriers and stigma.
Peer-to-peer education draws on the credibility that young people have with their peers, making other young people more likely to listen to, and internalize, information.
Community capacity building is the process of developing and strengthening skills that allow communities to develop according to their own priorities and needs.
These 3 strategies work together to form a comprehensive and evidence-based approach for increasing youth well being in a meaningful and sustainable way.
So, we know that what we’re doing works in theory, but how do we know that it’s working in practice?
We have a year round evaluative cycle, which means that we are constantly collecting and assessing data so that we can continually develop and improve our programs. We test to see if students in our target population are learning new and relevant information, whether rates of help seeking in their communities have changed, and if student leaders are gaining the skills they need to lead efforts they feel are relevant to their diverse lives. We also combine our findings with emerging evidence to ensure we consistently stay informed, responsive, and effective.
We’re confident that, as long as we carefully follow our plan, evaluate every step of the way, and continually improve our processes - we will not only improve youth mental health and well being, but young people will be better equipped to lead the way.
Safety is our #1 priority in all of our programs. We know that for some people, mental health can be hard to talk about - especially for people who have struggled or have recently gone through a difficult life experience. It is for this reason that we’ve used an array of evidence-based tools to ensure that our three programs (Jack Talks, Jack Chapters, Jack Summit) meet all safety standards for school populations and for our program participants. We also have two psychiatrists on our Board who check our work every step of the way.