Tackling a growing mental health crisis
Childhood and adolescence are crucial stages in the development of a person’s mental wellbeing. Unfortunately, according to the World Health Organization, 10% of children across the global experience a mental disorder of some kind, but the majority don’t receive help or care.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many children and young adults faced additional life pressures that caused or contributed to mental health challenges. In Canada alone, young adults reached out to one mental health crisis helpline 4 million times in 2020—more than double the number of calls received the previous year.
The Robb Nash Project is a charitable organization that helps children and adolescents explore complex topics such as depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction, and bullying. It works with schools and communities to help young people develop the awareness and skills required to maintain good mental health.
Robb Nash, musician, motivational speaker, and the founder of The Robb Nash Project uses his deep connection with mental health journey to provide the mission and drive to the organization. At just 17 years old, Robb went through a terrible car accident, changing his perspective on life as he knew it, and endured a mental health battle. Robb found that music was his gift, and knew he needed to share his story as a way to give back to the community, so others know they’re not alone in their journey.
As part of its response to the COVID-19 mental health crisis, The Robb Nash Project team wanted to design a curriculum that harnessed the connection they were able to create with their live shows, and encourage learners to reflect on their own mental wellbeing. Using music and real-life stories of youth they met while touring, young people are led through a series of discussions, reflective responses and journaling in a safe place to self-identify if needing help. They are directed to help and hope.
Linda Poulin, director of educational programs, explains: “For many years now, Robb Nash and his band have been sharing their personal experiences of mental health struggles with young adults across the country. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it gave us time to revisit what we’d been doing throughout our tours—and really shone a spotlight on how acutely we need to improve mental health support for children throughout Canada.”
She continues: “We wanted to turn what we’ve been using on tour into an online course for learners. We wanted to include high-quality, seamless video playback to make the stories and music as engaging as possible. Bilingual functionality was another key requirement as we strive to support youth everywhere in Canada. We had never developed an online platform before, so we decided to find a technology partner who would be able to help us along this journey. Our goal was to develop a course that could really improve learners’ lives and wellbeing and lead them to help and hope.”