Shine Out! Shout Out! Youth Peer-to-Peer Mental Health Support Program
Shine Out! Shout Out! is a group of hockey-playing friends raising funds and awareness for youth mental health through fundraising and community outreach, including the Shine Out! Shout Out! Adult Recreational Hockey Tournament held on the first Saturday after Labour Day. 



Our goal is to establish a peer-to-peer support programs for youth (age 15 -22) living with mental health issues and challenges. These programs will provide opportunities for youth to meet for fun, recreation and friendship, to support each other and learn from shared experiences to promote positive changes and coping strategies. It will be an informal once-a-week or more “hang-out”/’drop-in’ that will help youth feel welcome, comfortable, and safe. Young adults who are trained as facilitators will run this program. We have been working in conjunction with our local Canadian Mental Health Association to help us put the pieces in place, and build on the project plan we have developed for the peer-to-peer program.



The peer-to-peer mental health support program for youth will help:
•  Provide a safe recreational opportunity for youth as a means to address the social isolation often associated with mental health and allow them to be ‘youth’;
•  Address the noticeable gap in the mental health system for youth;
•  Provide a peer-based complement to other services / support / treatment being received;
•  Provide a forum to learn coping strategies;
•  Reducing the stigma of mental health by encouraging youth to talk about the issues and challenges they are encountering;
•  Provide leadership opportunities for youth / young adults in the community; and,
•  Help build the self-worth of a group of youth who are often stigmatized, labeled and have had their self-esteem and self-confidence depleted.  



No youth should be made to feel alone and in the dark in a crowded room, but that is how a youth with a mental illness can feel.   Our hope through the creation of a Youth Peer to Peer Mental Health Support Program is to give every youth a reason to smile, to feel connected, to know there is hope, and to know that they don’t have to suffer in silence.
The stats associated with Youth Mental Health are very real and they are not going away. 1 in 5 youth in Canada will report having a mental health issue and yet only 1 in 5 get the help they need – so imagine, out of the more than 500,000 youth needing mental health help, only 100,000 will receive it.  Suicide is the leading cause of non-accidental deaths among Canadian youth and we have the 3rd highest suicide rate of any industrialized country. 90% of those who commit suicide had a treatable mental illness. And despite the seriousness of these numbers, 49% of Canadians would not socialize with a friend who had a mental illness and 40% of parents say they would not admit to anyone that their child had a mental illness – not even their doctor.  (Stats: Mental Health Commission of Canada, CMHA, CAMH)   
And therein lies the issue – STIGMA. It is often the impact of the STIGMA associated with the mental illness and the SOCIAL ISOLATION that are the largest barriers to overcoming a mental illness and all this at a time when a youth is going through some of their biggest transitions socially, physically, educationally   
People are talking and more attention is being put on the area of mental health, but many services are still not available in every community, or if they are, there can be long waits to access them. Even though peer-to-peer support programs for youth are shown as being valuable resources for hope and recovery, as well as addressing social isolation associated with the stigma of a mental illness, many communities, including our own don’t have such programs. Left untreated, youth with mental illnesses have a greater potential to become youth at risk.  Mental Illness doesn’t just impact the person suffering, it impacts their family and friends as well.
For more information on how you can support this initiative, donate to the programs, be a sponsor at our tournament or just want to know more about Shine Out! Shout Out!:
Twitter: @shineshout
Toll-free: 1-800-637-1108