Since November, we’ve been working with BGC Canada to update their youth mental health program, called Flex Your Head! The program was first created for BGC Canada in 2011 by TNC. Ten years later, we’re working with BGC Canada again to refresh the content and adapt the program for virtual delivery.
Flex Your Head! is an interactive program that helps to build awareness and understanding of mental health and mental illness. Through a mix of activities and discussions, the program works to debunk negative stereotypes and address stigma about mental illnesses and people with mental illnesses. Youth also develop coping strategies to manage stress and negative feelings and learn how to reach out for help.
To help us update and adapt the program, we spoke to BGC staff and youth facilitators, and a group of passionate and engaged youth who were part of a Youth Advisory Committee, about their perspectives on mental health programs for youth and their experience with Flex Your Head! What we heard is that mental health is an increasingly important topic for everyone at BGC, and that further resources and adaptations were needed to ensure that the program is relevant and accessible to a range of diverse youth. We have incorporated their feedback into revised activities and content. Given youths’ increased access to technology and social media, we also created additional content to leverage this technology and raise awareness about emerging mental health issues. Through discussion and arts-based activities, youth will explore the relationship between social media and mental health, identify challenges that they may experience online, think critically about the messages they share online, and brainstorm strategies to protect their mental health online. The program is undergoing final revisions and it will soon be available to Clubs across Canada. TNC is also developing a training session to train BGC staff on the new program this summer.
It has been a pleasure to continue to work with BGC Canada, Club staff, and youth members on this project!
Sara & Kimberley