This CYMH Photovoice Project was aimed at engaging young persons aged 12 to 17 to discuss challenges and successes that impact their mental wellbeing. Research has shown that more than 6 in 10 participants aged 15 to 34 reported worsening mental health since the onset of COVID-19 (Statistics Canada, 2021). In this presentation, we will share the journey of implementing this Photovoice Project during the pandemic, and the photo stories that were developed from the participants.
A Partnership Engagement Model was used to engage youth, parents, service providers, government officials, and academic researchers to develop and implement the Photovoice Project for the promotion of and early intervention of mental health among children and youth. Three socio-cultural and economically distinctive cities in Canada were chosen for the implementation of this Photovoice Project. Each Photovoice group had seven sessions; each was 1.5 hours long with two co-facilitators. There were four photo themes: 1) Understanding mental health and wellbeing; 2) Challenges to child/youth mental health and wellbeing; 3) Protective factors for child/youth mental health and wellbeing; and 4) Strategies for healthy development of child/youth mental wellbeing. Selected photos were then used to develop photo stories about child and youth mental wellbeing from the participant’s perspective. Program evaluations were conducted at the beginning, mid-phase, and at the end of each group.
We originally planned two face-to-face Photovoice Groups (one for ages 12-14; and another group for ages 15-17) in each of the three selected city; however, due to the COVID-19 and subsequent physical distancing restrictions, we were only able to deliver two online intercity groups and one face-to-face group in a mid-sized city. These three groups were all for the younger age group between 12 and 14. A total of eighteen participants were involved. In this presentation, we will share the outcome and progress evaluation feedback received from the group participants. Example quotes included: “After participating in the CYMH Photovoice group I learned how much a single photo can relate to a person's mental health. And I also got a better understanding of how to help someone if they are feeling sad.” “If this was to be continued, then I would like us to have more time, because most of the time we have a meeting (especially the first and the last one) seemed like we were rushing a bit.”
Conclusion and Implications:
The CYMH Photovoice Project was implemented in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. While we were combating uncertainties with the pandemic to maintain both physical and mental wellness, we adapted and made changes to the format and delivery plans of the Photovoice groups. Despite the enrollment and completion numbers of the Photovoice groups not meeting our original plan, valuable feedback was received from group participants and our stakeholders. We are comfortable to conclude that Photovoice groups have its value to engage young persons to express their thoughts, motivate interactions, and promote self-confidence. We will share further practice and research implications in the presentation.