News & Events News & Announcements 2014 Toolkit for Change: SSO Helps Youth Amplify Their Voice

Toolkit for Change: SSO Helps Youth Amplify Their Voice

The impact of mental illness on youth can be life changing, affecting everything from education and employment to sustaining healthy relationships. Mental illness affects 10 to 20 per cent of youth in Canada; however, youth are rarely engaged in the dialogue around mental health. In response to this, SSO created the Youth Advocacy Toolkit, a resource to help young people have their voices heard and make a difference in how their mental health is addressed. The Toolkit was created as a companion piece to the Youth Empowering Youth report created as part of SSO’s Sound Off program, which uncovered the barriers faced by young people trying to access mental health resources.

With input from young people, the Toolkit provides information on how to advocate for change at the school, community and political level. Whether it is forming an advocacy group on campus, a social media campaign or sending a petition to their local MPP, this resource offers young people tips and practical advice on how to make a difference.

“We want youth to know that their opinions are valuable and empower them to make change,” said Antonella Scali, Policy Analyst at SSO. “My hope is that young people will read the Youth Empowering Youth report and be inspired to take action in their schools and communities. The Toolkit gives them a starting point and can be their guide to advocate at all levels, from their schools to local communities and elected officials.”

SSO’s Youth Advisory Council had an active role in creating the resource, ensuring that it was relevant and accessible in addressing the needs of young people.

“Many young people do not know how to properly engage with policymakers, interest groups, and elected officials on voicing their opinions and interests - whether it be because they are intimidated of them, they have never done it before, or because they don't know how,” said Lester De Luna, member of SSO’s Youth Advisory Council. “The Toolkit aims to give youth more confidence by providing the necessary tools to effectively engage with important decision makers.”

To learn more, read the Youth Empowering Youth report and Youth Advocacy Toolkit.