TRP students build skills and research connections at youth mental health research conference

Second-year Translational Research Program (TRP) students Brianna Dunstan, Izzar Linares, and Matt Prebeg presented their research at the #FRAYME2024 Learning Institute.

In late February, second-year Translational Research Program (TRP) students Brianna Dunstan, Izzar Linares, and Matt Prebeg presented their research at the #FRAYME2024 Learning Institute. An experience that reinforced much of what they have been learning in program, and provided them with an opportunity to use the skills they have learned. 

 With this year’s theme of “Driving Expertise into Action”, the Frayme conference is one of Canada’s only nation-wide conferences dedicated to youth mental health and substance use system transformation, drawing in people from across the country. Brianna, Izzar and Matt presented their Capstone research project to attendees.

Matt is also a FraymeGroundbreaker’ – part of the National Lived Expertise Network of youth, caregivers, and mental health advocates who provide mentoring and expertise in their community. 

The team was attracted to the event due to their Capstone research: “Enhancing Youth Engagement Through Measurement-Based Care”. Measurement-Based Care (MBC) is the routine, systematic use of validated measures, such as patient-reported symptom-rating scales, before or during each clinical encounter to inform decision-making about treatment in mental health.

Matt Prebeg hosting at FRAYME conference

The team identified that MBC is not consistently implemented or well understood in youth counseling, so are working with youths within Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario (YWHO) Networks to develop and enhance the system. The hope is to improve treatment engagement, increase MBC uptake, and ultimately enhance the quality of counselling services for youth in the network by involving youth in the system itself. 

“We saw the conference as an invaluable opportunity to not only showcase our work but also learn from others and contribute to meaningful advancements in this area,said Brianna. 

“The TRP helped foster our strong sense of curiosity and a commitment to learning, which motivated us to actively seek out opportunities for professional development and engagement, such as attending conferences like #FRAYME2024. This proactive approach to learning not only enriched our own understanding of youth mental health care but also facilitated meaningful connections with fellow researchers, practitioners, and advocates in the field,” added Izzar. 

 Each student returned from the conference with their own insights. For Izzar, it was a realization of the necessity to embrace change in youth mental health care, reframing it as an opportunity for growth and innovation. “Rather than viewing change as a disruptive force, the conference urged participants to approach it with openness and readiness to unlearn entrenched beliefs and practices. This mindset shift is crucial for staying relevant and effective in the continuously evolving landscape of youth mental health care,” he explained. 

Brianna resonated with the conference’s emphasis on the practice of unlearning. Out of all the meaningful engagement conferences I’ve been to in the past year or so, I have not yet experienced a conference so dedicated to emphasizing the significance of the practice of unlearning within this research space. As a new researcher in the space of youth and patient engagement, I think it’s so important to understand that unlearning is such a necessary process when centering the experiences of others within my research endeavors. 

FRAYME learning institute: "How can unlearning help with the 17 year gap?"

Matt underscored the importance of fostering collaboration within the field, “So much incredible work is being done across the country and beyond, but we lack mechanisms to share ideas and resources and support each other in the work that we do. Meaningful collaboration is essential”. 

 Matt has been a volunteer and Groundbreaker at Frayme for the last three years and volunteered to co-host the event. “I’ve never hosted an event to this caliber. I learned a lot about having confidence in myself and trusting the process. I also realized the power of a broader community. Who you know and who you can turn to for support is incredibly important in this line of work, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to connect with so many inspiring colleagues and friends!” he said. 

Brianna, Izzar and Matt created a recap video of the conference, check it out! 

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