A simple and effective youth engagement activity for mental health awareness

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It is nice to be important, but it is important to be nice.

During my undergraduate studies, I volunteered as a team leader at the Peer Support Centre that offered peer counseling to students. As a team, we were responsible for hosting events to promote mental health and the Centre to students, staff and the campus community in general.

The first event I organized with my team was engaging students to share with us a life mantra or a quote that they live by. We then shared all the positive messages with the general campus community by posting them on the Centre’s Facebook page.

The idea was inspired by acknowledging that young people carry important knowledge regarding their mental well-being. By providing them a platform to share their messages, young people can inspire and support their peers, and foster a sense of community that supports mental wellness and mental health among young adults.

.  .  .

Materials needed

  • A small whiteboard
  • Dry erase markers
  • A camera
  • Incentives (e.g. candy, chips, etc.)
  1. Have your whiteboard and markers ready.
  2. Ask young people to participate by sharing a mantra or quote that they find useful.
  3. Have them write it down on the whiteboard and pose with their message for a picture.
  4. Thank them for their time and give them their incentive.
  5. Share their positive messages with your community.

That’s it. A simple, creative, and engaging activity that promotes mental wellness.

.  .  .  

Some Consideration

Location is Key. Make sure your set up is at a location with a lot of foot traffic for your target audience.  We set up our booth in the lobby of the campus library where there is a large number of students coming and going at any given time.

Be Concise. Be prepared to explain the activity in a very short and concise manner so that people can make an informed decision to participate or not, such as “would you be interested in sharing a quote or mantra you live by to promote mental wellness in our campus community?” Who can really say no to that?

Once people showed interest, we explained to them that we will take pictures but it will be below the shoulder and won’t include their faces or any other identifying features. We also explained that we will post them on the Peer Support Centre Facebook page to share the positive messages to inspire mental health and mental wellness.

Compensate. It is important to provide participants with a token of appreciation, no matter how small. It shows that they contributed a little bit of goodness to the world and their effort and time is appreciated. We gave out candies we had left over from a Halloween event.

Bring Resources. Set up a booth with information about your center/organization, as well as mental health resources. Some people didn’t want to participate but stopped by to check out the information and resources available at our booth.

Have a designated person to take pictures. Whether you are using a phone or a camera, have a designated person to take pictures. This will make things go smoothly, and you will avoid frustration. We were lucky to have a photographer with a high-quality camera in our team that volunteered to take pictures and they turned out amazing.

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Please check out below the Peer Support Centre and all the amazing work they do.

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