All in for youth: supporting youth mental health in New Brunswick
As part of the Bell Let’s Talk partnership with the Graham Boeckh Foundation, we are excited to bring you a new blog series all about youth mental health. Over the next few months, the series will explore how the Integrated Youth Services (IYS) movement is transforming youth mental health in Canada through the perspectives of youth, families and service providers involved in IYS initiatives around the country. While each IYS initiative is adapted to the specific regional needs of youth, the model aims to improve access and bring together mental health and addiction services with other health and social services and supports so that young people ages 12 – 25 and their families can get the help they need, when and where they need it.
In New Brunswick, one such project is expanding integrated support for youth mental health in Kent County and Miramichi through the addition of Regional Strategic Coordinators. Introduced in May 2021, the Regional Strategic Coordinators are based in the community and help children and youth ages 13-21 facing mental health and addiction challenges connect to who and what they need for success in school and life.
Led by United Way Greater Moncton and Southeastern NB (GMSENB), the Regional Strategic Coordinators project collaborates with local school districts, other community-based organizations and the provincial Integrated Service Delivery teams to ensure youth have access to the help they need. At the heart of the project is the belief that in order to improve outcomes for youth, the entire community needs to be “all in for children and youth!”
We connected with Martin Moir, Regional Strategic Coordinator in Miramichi and Kai Gosling, Provincial Strategic Coordinator for New Brunswick to learn more about the project, how they’re supporting young people with their mental health and what it means to be all in for youth.
Martin Moir, Regional Strategic Coordinator in Miramichi, NB
What mental health concerns are young people in Miramichi facing, and how have you been able to support them through your role as a Regional Strategic Coordinator?
Much like other young people in surrounding areas, I believe that social media, peer pressure and day-to-day life will always have an impact on the mental health of youth here in Miramichi. However, Miramichi youth have difficulty finding appropriate professional help to discuss their needs and or any underlying issues they may have. Entering a professional building can be intimidating for an adult, so what do you think a young person would do? Some of the ways in which I support the youth in Miramichi can be with transportation to and from an appointment, asking them if they had an opportunity to have breakfast and provide them with a meal, and just maintaining a professional but very welcoming atmosphere for the youth whenever they may need to just talk or “take a timeout”.
What inspires you about this work?
“All in for youth” – that’s exactly what inspires me. My role as Regional Strategic Coordinator was meant for who I am as a person, mentor, role model, and coach. Although I work with many different community partners and agencies, at the end of the day my job is to make sure that Miramichi’s young people have a door they can walk through and talk to someone when it seems like all other doors are closed for them.
How can a young person in your community connect with you?
I am part of a team of people in Miramichi invested in the success of our youth! I can be reached on Facebook at Martin YOU Turns, but local youth can also reach out to the school: in this case Max Aitken Academy. You can also reach out through any of the team members at Anglophone School District North. Students, parents and guardians or professional staff may contact the school or district for further information in regard to accessing my services.
Kai Gosling, Provincial Strategic Coordinator
At the heart of this project is the understanding that the whole community is responsible for the success of our children and youth. What does being “all in for youth” look like?
“All in for youth” is the commitment and consolidated action of all service providers and agencies to support youth in realizing success and hope in life and school. It’s collaboration and sharing diverse and expansive knowledge and experiences in order to replace traditional barriers and antiquated systems with innovative initiatives, partnerships and relationships that ultimately enhance the possibility for the positive life’s trajectory for all the community’s young people. An example of this collaboration is the creation of a community/school district based alternative education site called Corridors. The program provides formal academic learning and community outreach for some of the most difficult to serve school-aged youth that have been unsuccessful or failed to engage in school-based and district-based interventions. The key partnerships include United Way GMSENB, Anglophone East School District, The Department of Social Development, and Youth Impact Jeunesse.
You have been a part of this project from the very beginning. What do you hope the future sees for the Regional Strategic Coordinators in the province?
The introduction of the Regional Strategic Coordinator positions is further proof that the model, vision, mission, values and outcomes of this initiative are making a difference and impacting our culture. My hope is that every community in New Brunswick will have at least one Strategic Coordinator team member in the future.
With young people in New Brunswick back at school this month after a difficult and uncertain year, what is the importance of having the Regional Strategic Coordinators in place in the community?
The importance is that young people will have a dedicated and trusted adult to act as their connector between school and community. Whether they require an advocate, accompaniment, navigation of services and supports or just someone to listen to their worries about future uncertainties, the Regional Strategic Coordinator is there to empower young people to realize they play a valuable role in the community. They matter and belong.
To learn more about how the Regional Strategic Coordinators project is expanding support for youth mental health in New Brunswick, check out this video or watch a recording of the launch event on Facebook Live. For more information, visit the United Way GMSENB’s website.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for the next blog post in this series!
The $10 million pan-Canadian Bell-Graham Boeckh Foundation Partnership was launched in March 2020 to help accelerate the delivery of mental health and wellness services through Integrated Youth Services (IYS) initiatives across the country. To learn more about how IYS is helping young Canadians get the support they need, watch this video.