YouthNet and the BeSafe app

Mary Alexandrou, Program Coordinator, M.Ed, CCC 


YouthNetRéseauAdo (YNRA) is a program for French and English speaking youth ages 13 to 20 that is part of the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario. YNRA raises awareness of mental health and steps in when a mental health issue arises.  Research has shown that youth are much more likely to talk about mental health to people their own age than to adults. This is why YNRA offers services that are led by youth and that are for youth. This creates an open and non-judgmental space for youth to talk about mental health in a healthy and meaningful way.

Our programs help youth learn healthy strategies to cope with stress. Our programs also decrease the myths and misunderstandings about mental illness and treatments. The YNRA Youth Advisory Committee creates and adjusts programming, and offers suggestions to service providers, families, policy makers, and other decision makers about how they can become more youth friendly. This program is a great example of the positive results of youth engagement and is good for youth because it gives them the chance they deserve to give their opinion on their own healthcare.

Why is this important for parents to know?

Parents know their youth! They recognize changes in behavior and attitudes with their children. If you notice that your youth is experiencing extreme mood changes and you're concerned, YouthNet may be an important resource for you and your family.

What is BeSafe? How can I use this for my youth?

BeSafe was created by mindyourmind, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, dedicated youth (such as our Youth Advisory Committee) and other partners in the Systems Improvement through Service Collaboratives initiative. It was made to help people get and organize mental health and addictions services for themselves, children, youth and families. Be Safe can be used in 16 different places around Ontario, one of which is Ottawa. The app itself is a tool used to help young people and parents find mental health services in their area. The main purpose of this app is to make it easy for parents and youth to get help by going on their phones and searching for the right service by answering a couple of questions. It is user friendly and can help navigate services for youth mental health.

YouthNet/RéseauAdo is managing and hosting the Ottawa division of the app and enhancing the BeSafe app for Ottawa youth.  We have an online resource list that is in both English and French (soon Arabic too!) and the services are all approved by youth. The app is important because it also helps people find the right resource for the right need.

The BeSafe app allows the user to:

1)      Inform themselves  about mental health and addiction resources in the Ottawa community through YouthNet's new electronic resource list,

2)      Directs the user to the best option(s) for their immediate mental health and/or addictions needs through a decision making aid with clear exit points to local resources to ensure safety and,

3)      Make an electronic safety plan

For more information on YouthNet/RéseauAdo, please e-mail
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For more info on the Be Safe app, visit the mind your mind website



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