B4-1: Amplifying Voices: The Power of Listening to Youth and Family with Lived Experiences
In this engaging presentation, we will delve into the crucial role of family and youth engagement in mental health services. We recognize the immense value of the lived experiences of youth and families and the unique perspectives they bring to the child and youth mental health sector. In this presentation, we will explore how building genuine relationships, trust, and acknowledging power dynamics when amplifying their voices are key skill sets to developing more effective approaches to building mental health services that truly reflect their expertise and lived experiences. During the presentation, we will delve into inclusive engagement strategies, using examples that illustrate how mental health allies, collaborating with families and youth can shape, influence and inform service design, delivery and navigation that is rooted in their lived experiences.
Participants will experience the transformative impact of involving families and youth in mental health initiatives and be equipped with practical tools and insights to create more inclusive, empathetic, and person-centered services that empower the voices of those with lived experiences. Join us as we embark on a journey toward empowerment, collaboration, and positive system change to envision a future where the lived experiences and voices of families and youth are amplified and integrated within mental health services at all levels.
Eleni Giannopoulos, C.C.C., M.Ed – Family Engagement Coordinator. With over 15 years of experience in international and local community development and engagement initiatives, Eleni is deeply committed to fostering equitable and inclusive spaces where communities can find empowerment and drive change. Eleni understands the importance of centering the voices and insights of those with lived experience to inform and shape solutions that address the challenges faced by their communities. Currently serving as a community engagement professional, specializing in Family Engagement within Peel’s Child and Youth mental health system at EveryMind Mental Health Services, Eleni creates opportunities for meaningful participation and co-creation. Eleni is a trained mental health professional holding an Honours Bachelor of Social Science in International Studies and Modern Languages and a Master of Education in Counseling Psychology. Eleni’s educational background coupled with her firsthand experience as a young caregiver in the Ontario long-term care and hospital sector, underscores her empathetic approach to complex system change challenges. Eleni’s work is driven by a belief in the power of community voices to transform and shape the systems and services they navigate and rely on for the better.
Omar Goodgame BSW, MBA – Youth Engagement Coordinator. Omar is passionate about developing solutions that are inclusive and which foster positive interactions between systems, youth and adults. With over 10 years of experience in community mental health, education and community development initiatives across the GTA, Omar believes the most effective and sustainable interventions for system change are best designed in partnership with those that are most affected by the problem. At EveryMind Mental Health Services, Omar leads the Youth Engagement portfolio within Peel’s Child and Youth mental health system. In this work Omar has led multiple co-created system projects with youth that aim to improve their experiences and access of the services they seek for their wellness. Omar holds a Social Service Worker Diploma, an Honours Bachelors of Social Work and an Masters of Business Administration specializing in Social Enterprises. Omar believes that when trust, accountability and authentic relationship building are present, youth and communities are likely to feel better supported, better cared for which leads to more possibilities of them likely thriving.
B4-2: Learnings from the GLOW Youth: Building 2SLGBTQ+ Rural Capacity
This presentation focuses on an innovative equity approach that aims to decrease 2SLGTBQ+ youth isolation and discrimination in a smaller urban and rural setting. While many agencies work to increase inclusion amongst their service providers, few have developed programming led by 2SLGBTQ+ youth themselves and the families that support them. The GLOW group in Dufferin County makes the argument that greater change happens in communities when youth and their families are provided advocacy skills to be each other’s and their communities’ best team players. Further, programming promotes greater outcomes when 2SLGBTQ+ youth are equated with expertise to solve larger system problems.
Stevie Forbes-Roberts (they/them) is the coordinator of GLOW, the 2SLGBTQ+ youth social and support group located at Dufferin Child and Family Services. Stevie has a master’s degree in Social Work from Laurier University and works as a mental health clinician specializing in creative interventions for LGBTQ+ youth and families. Stevie hopes to continue a life of activism and collaboration that includes advocating for stronger and more inclusive communities for 2SLGBTQ+ folks. Stevie identifies as non-binary and queer. They live in Guelph, Ontario with two dogs and they are the lucky parent of a 13 year old son and avid softball player.
Ryan Hornseth (he/him) is a 2SLGBTQ+ Youth Peer Support Worker at Dufferin Child and Family Services and a co-facilitator of the GLOW youth support group. He has been working to educate his community and advocate for 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion since he came out 7 years ago at age 12. Ryan is attending the University of Guelph for a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology this Fall. He plans to pursue a career in psychiatry, with hopes to provide 2SLGBTQ+ youth in rural communities with easier access to mental healthcare services. Ryan identifies as a queer trans man. He lives in Orangeville, Ontario with his parents and brother, and their dog and 5 cats.