Backgrounder: Mental Health Promotion Innovation Fund

Backgrounder

September 2020

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is supporting 20 mental health promotion projects that focus on reducing systematic barriers for vulnerable populations. The investment of $6.6 million over 2 years to the Mental Health Promotion Innovation Fund (MHP-IF) supports projects across multiple sites and jurisdictions to engage children and youth along with their caregivers from a variety of communities including Indigenous, newcomer and immigrant, and transgender groups.

The MHP-IF also funds a Knowledge Development and Exchange (KDE) Hub led by the Renison University College, University of Waterloo. The KDE Hub is focused on sharing best available evidence from research and building new evidence for mental health promotion for young Canadians that is sensitive to diverse cultures and contexts. The KDE Hub hosts an interactive web-based platform to support funded projects to share lessons learned, connect with various stakeholders and apply new knowledge to a broader policy and system change agenda.

The MHP-IF encourages mental health and wellbeing during the early years of life by promoting protective factors and addressing the underlying determinants of mental health and health equity for children, youth, young adults and their caregivers. The program supports the development, adaptation, implementation and evaluation of promising and innovative mental health promotion interventions. This includes the funding of partnerships across sectors, knowledge exchange activities and the scaling up of successful interventions to affect systems change.  

Childhood and Youth Development Projects
Project Recipient and Name Description

Association francophone à l'éducation des services à l'enfance de l'Ontario: Cultivons l’avenir! / Nurturing our future!

The project examines the impact of promising strategies and a collaborative approach between early childhood staff and parents of children aged 0-12 years to reduce the presence of risk factors and enhance the positive impact of known protective factors on healthy child development. The proposed intervention targets the three main spheres of influence on healthy child development: the home, child care (preschool and after-school) and young families living in three Ontario Francophone communities: Hawkesbury, Kapuskasing and Milton.

Funding amount: $279,731

Strongest Families Institute: Parents Empowering Kids - Keeping It Simple (PEK-KIS): an innovative, stepped-care e-approach to prevent behaviour challenges and promote positive parenting in early childhood

This project focuses on the revision and expansion of a parenting program, Parents Empowering Kids, to include a prevention and promotion focus based on a stepped-care approach. The project uses innovative technology and distance delivery to provide access across Newfoundland and Labrador to low-intensity positive parenting skills to help parents and caregivers build pre-schoolers’ social and emotional strengths.

Funding amount: $300,000

Mount Saint Vincent University: Engaging families in positive solutions for social-emotional learning during early childhood

This is a parent training and engagement program designed to complement an existing social and emotional learning program (called the Pyramid model) delivered in early childhood centres in Nova Scotia. The program provides an opportunity for families of young children to strengthen parenting skills in social and emotional learning, healthy relationships, and pro-social behaviour. Parenting skills are addressed throughout the program, with the goal of providing parents with skills supported by evidence-based practices for social and emotional learning.

Funding amount: $271,903

Hospital for Sick Children (Infant Mental Health Promotion): Nurturing the Seed: The Journey to Infant/Early Mental Health & Wellness

This pilot program is a strength-based health intervention model designed for Indigenous children (from birth to the age of five) that focuses on the promotion of infant and early mental health. The project strengthens knowledge and skills among front-line practitioners in the areas of infant and early mental health, increase the capacity of service delivery staff around diverse Indigenous cultural values and worldviews, improve developmental outcomes of Indigenous children, and increase parent, practitioner and policymaker understanding of the importance of relationships for mental health during infancy and early childhood.

Funding amount: $298,868

Simon Fraser University: Supporting Kinship & Foster Parents Promotes Resilience and Wellbeing in Teens in Care: An Attachment and Trauma Informed Intervention

This project provides training to community-based practitioners to deliver a trauma informed and attachment focused group-based intervention to foster parents in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. The project supports caregivers in developing sensitive and strength-focused caregiving skills in the context of adolescent trauma to promote a sense of security within relationships and support adolescents’ resilience.

Funding amount: $298,178

Community Food Centres Canada: Mind Your Food

The Mind Your Food project co-develops, implements, tests, and evaluates a community-based program that builds protective factors for mental health in youth (aged 13-19) experiencing food insecurity—including Indigenous, newcomer, and low-income communities. Activities include a cooking, nutrition and food-focused curriculum that emphasizes healthy relationships with oneself, with others and with the larger community.

Funding amount: $300,000

University of Sherbrooke: Preventing anxiety disorders in high school students: Evaluating the implementation and impacts of the HORS PISTE Program for Quebec-wide scale-up

The HORS PISTE Program aims to foster interdisciplinary and intersectoral collaboration and to pool community expertise to meet the needs of children, adolescents and young adults presenting or at risk of presenting mental health problems. The purpose of the project is to co-construct, consolidate, implement and evaluate an enhanced version of the HORS PISTE Program for grades 1 to 5 in 45 Quebec schools; to validate and consolidate the theory of the HORS PISTE Program through a rigorous evaluation of implementation and its impacts; and to produce a new version that can be implemented in all regions of Quebec.

Funding amount: $299,978
Youth Policy Making Projects
Project Recipient and Name Description

UBC School of Nursing: Promoting adolescent mental health through policy: Refining and testing a multi-level intervention to promote individual and population mental health through youth-engaged policymaking

This youth engagement and capacity-building project includes a series of collaborative policymaking workshops and emerging activities to promote skills-building and collective action for youth mental health. Youth (aged 13-24) experiencing intersecting health and social inequities (youth who has experience with mental health services, live in poverty, are in the care of the child welfare system, or who are Indigenous, newcomer/immigrants, and/or LGBTQ2+) are engaged as collaborators in capacity building and policymaking activities.

Funding amount: $300,000

The Students Commission of Canada: Authentic Social Identity and Mental Health

This peer-led project empowers youth to make changes in their daily lives to enhance positive social identity and to influence and create system change in the social spaces that they inhabit, both online and off-line. This includes workshops and program enhancements to be incorporated into existing programs delivered by peer leaders in youth organizations, coaching networks, schools and mental health agencies to help the formation of healthy social identities.

Funding amount: $292,658

Projects Supporting LGBTQ2 Communities
Project Recipient and Name Description

Central Toronto Youth Services: Families in TRANSition (FIT)

This project promotes positive mental health for transgender, non-binary and gender questioning youth (aged 13-24) through the strengthening relationships with their caregivers or parents. The intervention involves support groups for both families and trans youth that run simultaneously and are delivered in Toronto, Ontario. The parent group promotes improved parent understanding of trans identity and healthcare, as well as the mental health impacts of transphobia, trans-misogyny, rejecting parenting practises and microaggressions, as well as behavioural strategies to promote secure attachment during the period of early transition. The youth group promotes improved trans youth mental health through increased peer and parental support, promotion of coping skills to mitigate gender discrimination, and increasing knowledge regarding social, legal and medical transitioning options.

Funding amount: $282,292

Community-Based Research Centre Society: Maximize: Leveraging existing GBTQ2S+ youth and young adult sexual health networks and interventions to address mental health and wellbeing

This project adapts the existing Totally Outright program curriculum to include a mental health focus and test the adaptation through program delivery at three delivery sites across Canada, including Edmonton, Halifax and Vancouver.

The Totally Outright program is a community health leadership program designed to respond to gaps in sexual health among gay, bi, trans, queer and two-spirit (GBTQ2S+) youth and young adults (aged 18-24). Participants gain increased health literacy through activities and workshops that strengthen knowledge and skills to address poor mental health affecting GBTQ2S+ youth. Participants gain awareness of existing local mental health programs and services. In addition, a multi-sectoral Community Health Intervention Team provides guidance, support and access to professional networks for youth participants during the development and implementation steps of the project.

Funding amount: $299,101

Indigenous Community Focused Projects
Project Recipient and Name Description

Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre: Inuusirvik Community Wellness Hub – Pilot of a holistic, community-centred wellness program model for Inuit families in Nunavut

This project addresses some of the most pressing determinants of health for the territory through a Nunavut-led wellness hub using a trauma-informed approach, rooted in holistic Inuit wellness philosophy. The hub coordinates existing programs into an integrated community-led mental health and wellness service delivery model, including land-based programs, literacy programs, early childhood education programs, Inuit counselling services, suicide prevention and maternal-child health programs. The project builds on the existing pathways to wellness to improve mental health.

Funding amount: $299,955

Matsqui-Abbotsford Impact Society: Nation of Wellness (NoW)

This youth-led, adult supported initiative facilitates youth (aged 14-28) to inspire, guide and support their communities to build a culture where young people with experience of marginalization—and their concerns and passions—are seen, heard, included and celebrated. Activities include conferences developed by youth, community dialogue events, community cohesion and connection programs, advocacy efforts, and peer navigation. Project activities emanate from Foundry Abbotsford, British Columbia, and support other entities in the Fraser-Salish Region.

Funding amount: $300,000

The Pas Family Resource Centre Inc.: The Cedar Path

A youth-focused community initiative that regularly engages youth (aged 13-19) in healthy lifestyle activities in The Pas, Manitoba. The project offers opportunities for youth to engage in pro-social activities, provide positive mentorship, develop healthy attachments to their communities and learn to establish and make progress toward self-identified and personal goals.

Funding amount: $300,000

FOXY: Mental Health Intervention: Building Resiliency, Coping Skills, and Strengthening Mental Health among Youth in the Northwest Territories through the Arts

This project uses the arts to focus on cultural identity and developing coping skills, social and emotional skills, and pro-social behaviours, while processing trauma. The project targets youth (aged 13-17), specifically young Northern and Indigenous women, and will include trans women and gender non-binary youth. Youth, Northern-based researchers, clinicians, community members and Elders participate in all aspects of the development of the project. Activities take place in the Northwest Territories.

Funding amount: $292,000

Projects Focused on Newcomers/refugees
Project Recipient and Name Description

RésoSanté Colombie-Britannique: Mental health, we talk about it! Support for young Francophone immigrants in British Columbia and Alberta towards innovative solutions for good mental health

The project aims to equip immigrant youth aged 13 to 22 who attend Francophone schools and educational institutions in British Columbia and Alberta to maintain positive mental health. It also aims to provide tools to those working in Francophone schools who support and guide the integration of young people and their families into their new environment.

Funding amount: $272,978

University of Toronto – The Laboratory for Social-Emotional      Development and Intervention: Nurturing Child Development and Well Being in Refugee Children and Families: A Developmental Approach to Mental Health Promotion

This project supports healthy child development and developmentally sensitive services for refugee children and families, specifically from Syrian and Yazidi refugee communities in Ontario. The project implements a suite of child-, family-, school- and community-based intervention strategies through a strength-based approach.  

Funding amount: $295,228

University of Western Ontario: Supporting Transition Resilience of Newcomer Groups (STRONG): A school-based intervention to promote wellbeing

STRONG is a resiliency intervention for refugee and newcomer youth in southern Ontario. This ten sessions school-based approach strengthens transition resilience, promote individual strengths and skills to make positive choices, and provide a positive sense of self and belonging among newcomer groups.

Funding amount: $283,672

Multicultural Health Brokers Cooperative: Celebrating Culture, Celebrating Life: an empowerment approach to building resiliency amongst immigrant and refugee youth in Edmonton, Alberta

This project establishes and tests a youth-oriented brokering intervention. The project targets cultural minority youth (aged 13-19) in Eritrean, Oromo and Syrian communities in Edmonton, Alberta. Participants are engaged as cultural brokers, to address risk factors, build protective factors and reduce health inequities by overcoming and reducing barriers at the individual, family, community and systemic and structural levels. The project establishes a profile of the unique risk and protective factors for newcomer youth and develops a conceptual framework to demonstrate the relationship between the risk and protective factors and the underlying causes, including social determinants and structural violence.

Funding amount: $300,000

Newcomers Employment & Education Development Services (N.E.E.D.S.) Inc.: Enhance Wellness of Refugee Children, Youth and Families

This project addresses multiple factors that influence the overall mental health of refugee children, youth and families including risk and protective factors and the social determinants of health. The primary audience for this project includes Syrian refugee children and youth (aged 6-21) in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Families are also supported through Circle of Security Parenting groups. At the community level, training is delivered to service providers and educational professionals.

Funding amount: $298,912

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