All children, youth and families should have equal opportunities to live healthy lives. In Ontario communities and beyond, however, FNIM, LGBTQ, newcomers and rural youth, among other marginalized and minority groups, tend to experience more health—including mental health—disparities because of the structural barriers they face every day. Some of these barriers are geographical or situational, while others stem from long histories of marginalization, discrimination and other social injustices.
Belonging to one or an intersection of these identities or groups isn’t inherently what increases a youth’s risk of suicide. It’s the barriers they face—those impeding their social integration, access to support services, economic restrictions, and more—that can take a toll on their mental health and decrease their chances to thrive.
Reducing barriers to mental health within a community will require the help of those who experience these barriers. As you think of ways to make your community a healthier place for young people and their families, you must engage these unique groups of stakeholders in the conversation. Marginalized and minority youth have diverse knowledge, perspectives and lived experiences that, if tapped into, can greatly enrich your community mobilization efforts. This section of the toolkit provides you with considerations for engaging FNIM, LGBTQ, rural and newcomer youth in your community coalition.