Together to live: Mobilizing around youth suicide

As you’ve seen throughout the site, there are many ways to approach knowledge mobilization (KMb). Below is an example of how the Centre is mobilizing knowledge to address youth suicide in communities across Ontario.  

Together to live: A toolkit for addressing youth suicide in your community is an evergreen online toolkit that contains a growing collection of knowledge, evidence-informed tools and stories to support a whole-community approach to suicide prevention, risk management and postvention. It is essentially a one-stop shop intended to support Ontario service providers in community-based efforts to address youth suicide.

Together to live was developed by the Centre alongside people and organizations across the province as part of the Ontario government’s youth suicide prevention plan. The Centre worked with a cross-sector provincial working group that included practitioners, researchers, policy-makers, families and youth. Stakeholders were engaged in an initial planning session for the development of the toolkit, while a smaller working group provided targeted consultative support during the development and pilot stages.

The KMb plan

The Centre developed a KMb plan to generate awareness, share knowledge/tools and influence practice change. Specifically, our KMb goals are to:

  • increase the visibility/awareness of Together to live as useful tool to support community efforts in addressing youth suicide prevention, risk management and postvention
  • increase the use of tools/resources/information by communities working together to implement and mobilize initiatives focused on youth suicide prevention, risk management and postvention
  • increase the implementation and mobilization of evidence-informed initiatives focused on youth suicide prevention, risk management and postvention

The primary audience for this toolkit and our KMb strategies includes direct service providers and practitioners working with children and youth across sectors. This ranges from those in mental health, health, addictions, youth justice, education, mental health leaders, child welfare and organization/sector leadership.

It took us a few days to develop our plan, though we did generate ideas throughout the toolkit’s development. Our KMb plan identifies strategies for the fiscal year, though KMb activities will continue beyond. The KMb plan will be updated as needed going forward.

Putting the KMb plan into action

KMb strategies for Together to live mainly consist of conferences, social media, webinars, e-bulletins and targeted outreach. The majority of these activities are virtual. We have budgeted for translation, promotional material (swag) and honouraria. Staff time is our biggest resource supporting our KMb activities for this initiative.

Working group members, local youth suicide prevention networks and various organizational partners are helping to mobilize Together to live. Stakeholders will continue to be engaged in various KMb strategies, including co-hosting a Twitter chat, promoting our toolkit through various organizational newsletters/on partner websites and facilitating webinars/presentations among their networks.

What helped?

  • Making a KMb plan – it was helpful to identify the different possibilities for reaching our key audiences. Associating timelines with these activities (e.g. conference dates), is helping us stay organized. Similarly, thinking about KMb from the beginning was helpful. We may not have had our plan in place until we were ready to launch but we always saw our initiative as developing and mobilizing a toolkit – the work wasn’t going to end after it was developed.
  • Working collaboratively with stakeholders early on – this toolkit was largely informed by a variety of partners and stakeholders who participated in an early planning session, and on our working group and/or who piloted the website for us. When we launched the toolkit, many of them took to social media to get the word out. Some also invited us to deliver webinars or presentations at their events which will help us achieve our KMb goals.
  • Understanding our audience – when we started our journey to develop the toolkit, the key question our stakeholders and collaborators wanted to know was: who was our audience? Defining this at the outset helped us develop a toolkit with focus. It’s also helping us focus our KMb activities as we know the knowledge users we need to reach.

We’re still in the early stages. One challenge we anticipate is keeping up with KMb activities amidst other competing priorities. Having the plan to guide us and keep us on track should help with that challenge.

Keeping the goal in mind

Our evaluation plan will help us monitor whether we achieved our KMb goals. We’ll be evaluating many of our strategies by tracking access/reach (e.g. number of website visits, tweets/re-tweets, swag distributed, conference/webinar attendees, etc.). We also have an evaluation survey available through the toolkit which looks at relevance, usefulness, possibility for practice change and other indicators. We also plan to use other evaluation tools (e.g. targeted surveys, focus groups or interviews) to assess whether the toolkit is imparting relevant knowledge/tools or influencing practice change. We’ll use our evaluation findings to understand if the toolkit is meeting the needs of knowledge users. These evaluation findings will help us make ongoing improvements to the toolkit to ensure needs are being met. Our evaluation findings may also let us know about unintended impacts, which could be helpful when thinking about maintaining, updating or mobilizing the toolkit.

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