Caring Minds: Youth, Mental Health and Community is one of a cluster of joint York University / University of Victoria Knowledge Mobilization projects funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Like technology transfer programs for scientific studies, Knowledge Mobilization takes new scholarly research and applies it beyond the towers of the academe, in places where it can foster new public programs and serve as a motor for social innovation. Key to this effort is input from community partners who insure that the product is accessible and grounded in circumstance and practice.
Our project took place over the spring, summer and fall of 2009, beginning with a series of community consultations with School District #61 and Pacific Centre Family Services in Victoria, BC and with three mental health patient/consumer groups in Toronto. We were very fortunate to have input from the LEARN group at the Center for Addictions and Mental Health, members of Sound Times, and the Mad Students Society. The thoughts and ideas of these key community participants led directly to our decision to focus curriculum development on the following topics: discrimination and stigma; housing and poverty; rights and activism; and well-being and treatment. During the summer months we gathered and organized research findings from the Open Doors/ Closed Ranks: Mental Health after the Asylum project which traces the history of deinstitutionalization in Canada, setting these alongside current research and resources. A set of four draft teaching units were written with these materials. In September these draft units were presented to a series of middle and secondary-school teacher focus groups from Victoria’s School District #61. Their suggestions were incorporated into the final versions of the teaching units.