While representing Youth4Wellness at Yale at this year’s YAB Colloquium, our team was able to speak on the updates, challenges, and successes of our group.
The central purpose of our youth advisory board is to elevate youth voices and amplify youth-led initiatives to promote mental health and prevent substance misuse in their schools and communities. In our current stage of research, we are evaluating the usability, accessibility, and feasibility of supportED, a digital game co-created by our youth advisors to prevent suicide in youth who misuse substances.
In the recent launch of our pilot RCT, we have included youth advisors as research assistants in our work. Furthermore, I discussed smaller project-based initiatives that members of our advisory board are working on, which included our bi-annual newsletter and membership development activities, such as a student-led panel, and a self-care workshop.
High engagement and strong youth leadership in the form of tri-chairs have been a strength of our board and have gone well during the process of facilitating our YAB.
In terms of challenges, we shared how our YAB is working on finding the balance between targeted research activities and college- and career-readiness activities. We also realize that youth are busy and while we value our monthly meetings, we wish we had more time to work together.
Our suggestions for developing and maintaining a youth advisory board include numerous opportunities for youth to provide feedback, being flexible with their needs and challenges that are being navigated, and creating a foundation of youth-led leadership and youth-centered voice.