The First Online Teens in Control Workshop – The Polls say Huge Success!

A typical Teens in Control workshop begins with a gathering of tentative youth ages 12-18 with two facilitators. It can be awkward at first, as everyone is unsure of what will be discussed or how much participation is expected. As facilitators, we understand and are aware of how uncomfortable it can be to open up about a family member living with mental illness. We work hard to create an environment that feels welcoming and supportive, with snacks, colouring, games, and options to participate according to one’s own comfort level.

We were unsure how well this would transfer to an online workshop, but we knew we had to try! The support and connection offered by Teens in Control is needed now more than ever. We launched our first online Teens in Control workshop on July 21 and 23 with four youth. 

The workshop came to life as the youth met online and began to connect over shared interests, like pet geckos! We invited an alumni from Teens in Control to join the group as a Youth Peer Facilitator. She was able to share her story and what she’s learned through Teens in Control to help others feel safe to share as well.

The first session focused on getting to know each other, as well as learning about mental illness and mental health. We used online poll software to play some of our usual Teens in Control games and encourage youth to participate. The polls were anonymous, but the overall results could be shared with the group. This allowed group members to see how many other people responded the same way they did. We used this for icebreaker games, with questions like, “What is your favourite animal?”, as well as for deeper questions asking youth to rate how much they agreed with statements like, “Other people don’t understand my family member’s mental illness”. This helped the youth see they are not alone in these common thoughts and feelings.

The second session focused on skills for communicating with a loved one with mental illness, and how to take care of oneself, especially during the current pandemic, when previous coping strategies like going to a friend’s house may not be possible. 

The online workshop also let youth share their experiences and respond to discussion questions through a chat feature, which took away some of the anxiety of speaking out loud to a group. 

The final poll asked youth to share their feedback on the workshop, and the results show it was a success! The youth really enjoyed the use of polls, videos, and having a Youth Peer Facilitator for the workshop.

After taking part in the workshop, youth are invited to continue with an online monthly drop-in group for ongoing support. All the youth said they were interested in continuing with a monthly group this fall.

BCSS will be offering more online Teens in Control workshops for BC youth this fall. To find out more, or to register for a workshop, please contact Rachel Phillips at 778-903-2752 or kidsincontrol@bcss.org.