Youth Mental Health Initiative
Improving access to mental health resources and services for young English-speaking Quebecers
In order to better equip Teaching Artists in meeting student needs, ELAN ArtEd offers Teaching Artists professional development in Mental Health through learning communities targeting Children and Pre-teens ages 5-14, Youth ages 15-29 and Seniors ages 65+. Funded by Community Health And Social Services Network (CHSSN), ELAN ArtEd’s 2021-22 Youth Mental Health Initiative engaged with:
→ 14 Teaching Artists
→ 60 school and community organizations
→ Over 3400 youth
Teaching Artist and Social Worker Alyssa Kuzmarov facilitated the Youth Mental Health community from 2021-22. As Alyssa writes, professional development of this kind:
“… provide[s] a space for Teaching Artists to share their experiences, cultivate new skills and explore challenging issues and behaviors they may encounter in the classrooms. As Teaching Artists, we are often alone, carrying deep emotional experiences the youth share with us or dealing with conflicts or complicated group dynamics. This is a very meaningful part of our work and yet it is vital to have a space to process those experiences, and to explore enhanced ways of responding to youth… These workshops create a community for Teaching Artists so that we can support each other to learn and grow in our work with youth and as artists.”
The potential for Art Education to support Mental Health at all ages is more pertinent now than ever before. As Dr. Tiina Kukkonen writes,
“The arts have a history of helping youth and communities heal after crises and disasters and will most certainly have a restorative role to play as we begin to adjust to post-pandemic life… Whether in-person or online, children and youth have benefited not only from the artistic expertise of artists, but also from their ability to create learning environments that are inclusive, collaborative, and most of all, fun.” (Supporting Youth Mental Health In And Through The Arts).
The success of the first year led to increased funding and an expansion of the program to include professional development for Teaching Artists working with children and youth ages 5-14, and seniors ages 65 and up.