Meet a Mobilizer- Jennifer McPhee

Jennifer and QuinnMy name is Jennifer McPhee. I am the project coordinator of a national KT project that focuses on young adult mental health (Mobilizing Minds: Pathways to Young Adult Mental Health; mobilizingminds.ca). The project is linked to the KM Unit at York University and includes a large team of researchers, health professionals, young adults and community organizations. We are working together to find out what information young adults want about mental health, where they would be most likely to look for it, how they would like to receive it, whom they might contact for information, when it’s best to receive this information, and what kind of barriers might prevent them from getting the information they need. The final product will be evidence-based, youth friendly mental health resources and decision- making aids that will assist young adults in making informed choices about their mental health and treatment options. Most importantly, this project adheres to a youth engagement framework – young adults (mental health consumers and non-consumers) guide and inform all phases of the project.

I am thrilled to be part of such a pivotal project. What interests me most about this project is that it adheres to both a knowledge mobilization (KM) framework and a youth engagement framework. The project deviates from the traditional top down ‘push’ of information and focuses on the bi-directional exchange of information and the co-production of information and resources. We have a young adult team that informs and guides all phases of the project. Traditionally in Canada, youth have not been included in the development of youth mental health and addictions services, programs, policies and resources. Their voices are not heard and consequently their needs are not being met. I am cognizant about this issue since my background is in youth mental health and addictions (Hon.B.A, Psychology; MSc Mental Health Counselling). Before joining the Mobilizing Minds’ project, I worked for several years as a youth (and family) mental health and addictions counsellor. I was then seconded to coordinate multiple youth mental health and addictions research projects at Brock University. I now coordinate York University’s KT mental health project which Brock University is partnered on. For the past nine years I have really enjoyed this line of work because it allows me to collectively use my clinical background, research skills and project management skills. Most importantly, this experience has taught me the significance of KM and youth engagement. It has shifted my way of thinking. For those of you who provide youth services, I ask you to please consider if youth are actively involved in your program and service planning? Engaging youth helps to ensure that your services meet their needs.

Outside of work, I am a mother of an incredible 4 ½ year old boy (Quinn) and the wife of a wonderful husband (14 years together) and father. My family is my main priority in life. A dear friend once said to me, “you will never look back at your life and think – I should have worked more – but you might look back at your life and think – I should have spent more time with my children.” I remember these words of wisdom often and try to enjoy every precious moment with Quinn as he grows-up.

Jennifer McPhee and Family