What is youth engagement?
Youth engagement empowers youth as valuable partners addressing and making decisions about issues that affect them. And one thing is clear: Young people know their mental health is important and they deserve a say in how it’s supported. Youth engagement means embracing young people’s ideas and perspectives at every level of an organization – including governance, service planning and delivery, and evaluation. It’s about giving up a little bit of control but trusting it’s still in good hands. – The Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health
Outcomes of Youth Engagement
Services that promote and respond to consumer/youth/parent perspectives achieve better mental health outcomes in terms of compliance, retention and/or meeting client mental health needs. Engaged youth report lowered rates of substance use. Engaged youth also report significantly lower levels of depression than non-engaged youth.
Through engagement, youth develop skills that can lead to employment, make connections to resources and people, become empowered, and build self-confidence. Connectedness is linked to a decreased likelihood of suicide attempts, early sexual activity, and drugs.
Improved Academics, Internations, and Decision Making
Higher academic performance, healthier peer, and adult interactions and improved decision-making abilities are also associated with youth engagement.
When youth and adults work collectively, the result is healthier and safer communities.
Youth engagement creates positive behavioural changes among adults. Most frequently, adults concluded that their level of involvement in the work at hand increased because of their collaborations with youth. Their emotional energy is contagious. The optimism and motivation of youth stretches adult staff. Adults report coming out of youth-adult partnerships with new strategies for interacting with youth and a growing sense of competence in relating to them.
Through engagement, organizations learn about the needs and concerns of youth directly and can develop more relevant programming that reflects those needs and concerns.
Youth Program Involvement
Youth engagement in programs often shifts the public image of organizations to be more youth-friendly, which inspires confidence in the organization among youth.
Better Prevention and Intervention Programs
Youth-adult partnerships lead to enhanced social capital and civic involvement of youth and more inclusive and effective decision-making processes within organizations. This leads to better health outcomes, more responsive communities and better prevention and early intervention programs and policies.
Youth Engagement at Compass
Compass is redesigning the Youth Engagement Strategy. Stay tuned for more information.