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Social Sharing: How NYAC is engaging youth online in a positive way


By Tyson Herzog & Olivia Heffernan, NYAC Peer Facilitators, and Janice Lam and Maree Rodriguez, NYAC Committee Members

Ah, the internet. We’re all familiar with the warnings: violence, porn, chaos, trolling and misinformation. Parents beware! Watch your kids! Shield their eyes! Cover their ears!

We’ve all heard of the dangers: the horrors of sending n00dz on SnapChat and the consequences when private, intimate photo become public, the bullying that happens via Twitter and Facebook, and the growing trend of young people measuring their self-worth on how many ‘likes’ they get on Instagram.

Most young people don’t disagree with the messages behind these warnings. Bullying is terrible, both on the internet and IRL. It’s definitely not okay to share nude pictures of another person with their permission. And a human’s worth is certainly not dependent on their popularity on social media.

We hear about the bad stuff, but we don’t hear much about the ways that young people are using social media for good. So to honor International Youth Day and the young people that are involved in CAMH’s National Youth Advisory Committee (NYAC), we’re proud to show everyone how we – like many other young people from around the globe – are using the internet and social media to make a positive impact.


As an example, NYAC member, Janice Lam, will guide you through how our committee collaborated using technology to create the #selfree campaign.

Before a campaign may even begin, it has to be conceptualized, and organized. NYAC has members from all over Canada, so  we use online meeting places to share ideas, and discuss, as well as expand on, possibilities.

One place where members collaborate is Facebook, which allows users to form ‘groups’. These are basically forums – places where people may post ideas and discuss them through comments underneath. NYAC has a group for its members, with privacy settings set so only members may see the posts. This has allowed members to sort out how to execute and promote projects, and it is with this collaborative method NYAC has been successful. 

While the Facebook group continues to serve this idea incubation purpose, it has also grown to become a place of community. Members tend to share opportunities they have come across with others. They also share news about initiatives they are personally involved in, receiving support and encouragement.

This vibe may continue to be felt through monthly NYAC teleconference calls – chances for members to hold discussions in real-time. Members join in through their computers or their phones. Various chat functions within the teleconference software allow for conversations to take place in an orderly manner. An example is the ‘raise hand’ function, where members who want to speak must ‘raise their hand’ before doing so. Another helpful function is the ability to share information through PowerPoint presentations during the teleconference. This allows for everyone to work together effectively. With social media such as this, projects such as the #selfree campaign, may run smoothly.

To see the collective fruits of our labour, check out our #Selfree tumblr page.(

Go ahead, ‘like’ our public NYAC Facebook page! It’s more than just a fun page to post funny videos, inspiring quotes and uplifting messages with a wider audience. This is a place where we can tell the public about NYAC projects, share opportunities for young Canadians to get involved in advocacy efforts, and empower other NYAC members by promoting the amazing things they do on their own. The fun doesn’t end there! It’s also allows us to share other relevant news from the world of youth mental health – with an audience that cares!

Using 140 characters to get a message across might be difficult but we’re doing it! Using Twitter gives us the ability to connect quickly with service providers and other young people! We’re able to stay informed about important stories and share them with our followers in a timely manner. Twitter also gives us a platform to participate loudly in Bell Let’s Talk Day! We were able to attract hundreds of followers while displaying some of the cool images of why our members talk about mental health. Give us a follow, we don’t bite! @NYAC_

It’s pretty incredible to think that NYAC has only been around for a year and half! In such a short time we’ve already had some amazing accomplishments, including: the #selfree campaign, 7 blog posts for CAMHblog and CAMH Education, and feedback and collaboration on many projects within and outside of CAMH.

What’s on the horizon, you ask? Let’s let  NYAC member, Maree Rodriguez, fill you in!

As a youth-driven committee, we are always finding new ways to help youth help themselves. We are currently developing a checklist for youth to use when they want to access health-related services in their community. It can be hard to figure out where to go and what kind of services are out there when someone is looking for the right type of care. This will hopefully make it easier for youth to be their own advocates for themselves when searching for services.

We are also partnering with Rendezvous with Madness (, a film festival that brings awareness to mental health. Together with Workman Arts ( and the festival planners, NYAC is involved in the production process for a new film project called If You Ask Me (IYAM). NYAC is also spearheading the social media campaign to promote IYAM.

And to think, none of this would be possible without today’s amazing technology and the wondrous powers of the interweb! The tools available to us through technological advances allow us to work together as an active and effective community of like-minded young advocates.

Thank you technology!

Image courtesy of “Derek Σωκράτης Finch” on Flickr

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