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Ottawa high school students lead change in attitudes to mental health
Youth Net presents video: ‘Youth lead the fight against mental health stigma’
October 6, 2015, Ottawa – CHEO’s Youth Net/Réseau Ado and young people from ten different high school Student Wellness Committees in the Ottawa region are fighting to end the stigma surrounding mental illness with a recent YouTube video launch. With over 400 views in the first two days, the video is encouraging youth to work together to change attitudes about mental health.

“For youth, this video showcases the important role students can play in impacting peer culture surrounding mental health and sends messages to peers about the importance of taking care of one’s mental health,” says Zsofia Cook, Anti-Stigma Promotion Coordinator at Youth Net. “As the messages are coming from youth themselves, they are more meaningful.”

In Ottawa, the project includes 25 high schools from 4 different school boards. Over 100 students and 25 adult allies have been working together since meeting in a summit last spring. Each student wellness committee aims to reach its entire high school population – approximately 20,000 youth in Eastern Ontario.

Youth Net’s Anti-Stigma and Wellness Program supports the student teams by hosting an annual summit to initiate new schools into the program, meeting regularly in the schools to help carry out initiatives and campaigns, providing monthly learning and networking opportunities, and holding a summer mental health leadership retreat to help students develop a mental wellness action plan.

Youth Net reaches 10,000 youth in Eastern Ontario annually through its mental health promotion and early intervention program. Youth Net aims to engage young people in their own health care with the understanding that they are more comfortable talking to peers about mental health than they are with adults.

Youth Net/Réseau Ado Ottawa is a bilingual regional mental health promotion and intervention program run by youth, for youth. For more information, go to, or contact the Youth Net program coordinator, Taylor Linseman, at

About CHEO
The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) is Canada’s capital pediatric hospital and helps over 500,000 children and youth each year. CHEO has more than 2,500 doctors, nurses and staff dedicated to providing the best possible care for the children and youth of Eastern Ontario, Western Quebec, Nunavut and parts of Northern Ontario.

CHEO works closely with the University of Ottawa as a teaching hospital and fosters groundbreaking research through the CHEO Research Institute. CHEO’s vision is to change young lives in our community, while our innovation changes young lives around the world.

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For further information, please contact:

Eva Schacherl

Communications Manager and Strategist
613-737-7600 x 3536
Cell: 613-769-5553 
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