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Hear what project participants, parents/guardians of project participants, project assistants/interns/practicum students/volunteers, and community partners have to say about the Children and Youth Mental Health Project!


BSW Practicum Student

July 2020

My involvement with this project has impacted the trajectory of my social work career. Before participating in this project, research felt inaccessible to me. I did not see any clear entry point into this area of social work, or how it might apply to frontline work. I have since learned that research is not just for graduate and Ph.D. students; it is for every social worker, including students. We each bring unique perspectives and lived experiences that are valuable to the process. I plan to pursue an MSW in the next couple of years, and I can now envision a focus on research as a viable option.


BSW Practicum Student

September 2020

Working directly with the project team was a chance to observe how professionals embody those values. One example that stood out for me was the emphasis on making sure everyone feels heard throughout the project. In very meeting, I was very aware of how space was continually being made for everyone’s voice, including mine as a student.​

Working on tasks, I was supported by the team, but also empowered to find solutions on my own. I felt this was a key learning as a large part of our role as social workers it to help our clients understand their own power and recognize power relations in their own life. I took more ownership of a tasks, dug further into additional learning on how to accomplish the task, and paid more attention to the quality of the output of my work.


BSW Practicum Student

July 2020

The Children and Youth Mental Health (CYHM) Project was an incredibly value practicum. I enjoyed working with a warm professional community of social workers from Canada and China, interacting with students, professors, and community agency partners. This practicum gave me a deeper understanding of research ethics and professional practice, as well as the interactions between research, policy, and frontline practice.


MSW Practicum Student

December 2021

​I have worked with the Children and Youth Mental Health (CYMH) Project from September – December 2021. I have had the opportunity to work with a great team and work towards a common goal to engage children, youth and community partners in developing initiatives in the promotion of mental wellness for children and youth in Canada and China.  In the middle of a global pandemic we can see the effects of increased isolation; this project has been able to work towards new innovative ways to support mental health for children and youth.  


BSW Practicum Student

July 2022

I am Rachel Van Ee; I am a recent graduate from the University of Calgary Bachelor of Social Work program. Throughout my final year of studies, I was fortunate to work as a research assistant on the research project: Promising practices for children and youth: A model of Canada-China collaboration. During my time spent on the project, I worked on the social media task group, as well as participated in facilitation of the Lethbridge area Photo storytelling youth group.


In the (Photo Storytelling) group facilitation in March-May of 2022. This was an incredible opportunity, not only to better understand that methods of gathering data for the project, but to practice generalist social work skills, and to see, in real time, themes emerging to inform the project.  This allowed me a deeper appreciation for the depth, complexity, and value of this project. As a new social work entering the profession, my time on the project offered me valuable learning experiences, as well as insights. It was instrumental in my own personal growth and was a significant factor in my decision to pursue graduate studies. Furthermore, my time on the project served to highlight to me my areas of passion, including that of macro social work, research, social justice advocacy, and further engagement in academia. I am grateful to have been offered this experience, and wish to extend my thanks to Dr. Tam and the research team for their patience, support, time, and guidance.


Research Assistant

May 2021

I would like to take some time to share a bit about my experience working as a research assistant. . I had the privilege of working under Dr. Dora Tam (Principal Investigator), Dr. Siu Ming Kwok, and Dr. Barbara Lee, on a research project about child and youth mental health (Promising practices for children and youth: A model of Canada-China collaboration). This was my first time working as a research assistant and I was admittedly a bit intimidated by the role in the beginning. My role in the project was assisting with a scoping review that was being undertaken to examine promising practices in child and youth mental health. Being part of this project that explored promising practices on this topic allowed me to integrate my learning and research into direct practice. I feel that this experience enriched my education and deepened my appreciation for the vital importance of research in our field.

The team provided support, encouragement and mentorship throughout the process and I feel that they all went above and beyond in their roles to provide leadership and support to myself and other research assistants. Being a part of this project was much more than a job, and I leave this work feeling connected to my other team members and as if I was able to be a part of something important. Their commitment to the field of social work, to research, and to mentoring the next generation of researchers is a rare and special combination. 



April 2023

This project has enabled me to practice relevant, real-world skills that I can apply to future social science research projects. I was given tasks specifically related to the “written” and “secondary research” side of research. I learned how to navigate different databases, refine search terms, and format/write reviews of various kinds.  

Working with Dr. Tam is an encouraging experience. Dr. Tam is highly responsive, supportive, and personable. I felt extremely comfortable asking Dr. Tam questions or airing out any concerns I had. The work she is doing, i.e., this (child and youth mental health) project, is inspiring. I love seeing professional researchers apply research to make meaningful, positive, changes in the world.  


Project Assistant

May 2020

As an undergraduate student joining the CYMH Project I felt that I had a lot to learn, but I was excited to grow my research skills and have new learning experiences. Many of the tasks I worked on were new to me; I had never developed a directory resource before or been a part of group developing mental health sessions for youth, and I had never helped facilitate a group session for youth before. My social work education had certainly prepared me for many of these tasks, but there is always something different about putting learned skills into practice!  


MSW Practicum Student

July 2020

If you are looking for learning experience that will help you grow as a social worker, I would absolutely recommend working with Dr. Tam and her team. Even if you have no plans for research, there is a lot to be gained from the experience. There will always be someone who is willing to answer your questions and provide you with the resources you need to complement your learning experience.  Finding a learning environment where your work is validated and appreciated is not always easy to find, but I did find that here with this team and I hope that you consider this opportunity.


BSW Practicum Student

July 2021

When I started the practicum, I had some preconceptions about one of the key approaches of the project, which was 'Children knows the best of what changes or resources they want in their lives.' But by involving in project activities, reflective practice, the effective use of supervision, and engaging in meaningful discussions about my biases with my supervisor, I was able to put aside those biases and personal beliefs. I could switch to a strength and empowerment-based approach.


BSW Practicum Student

Oct 2022

I had the opportunity to take part in the Child Youth Mental Health project as a practicum student for four months. Going into this project, I was not sure how this project differed from the other mental health projects I have encountered in the past. As much as the titles of the projects within the overall project reflected what we were doing and the emphasis was placed on community-based research, I did not fully comprehend its true meaning until I co-facilitated my first focus group in Grand Prairie.  

In Grand Prairie, I had the opportunity to run two focus groups. Prior to the session I collaborated with the team to design the session plan to engage the youths and discuss ways we will lean into their strengths.

The ice breaker used was very helpful and engaging, it also gave me the opportunity to observe characteristics and strengths of the participants. By the end of the focus group the youths' voices and desires were loud and clear. They articulated verbally and creatively what mental health and wellness meant to them, what they needed as an unheard population and suggested who they felt we should go about it. At that point I truly understood what community-based research and participatory action meant. After facilitating the Grand Prairie focus group, I had the opportunity to facilitate two more groups in Calgary. They were all so different as the population and demographics changed. It was an exciting and humbling experience. I have always believed that we need to include the voices of those being affected however, this project took that belief to a deeper level as I saw the importance firsthand and I saw that the data collected could not have been as rich as it was without the voices of the subjects. I realized how important it was to engage, include and listen to our youths as they are more aware than society realizes.



April 2022

As a software engineering student, I never thought that I would work with a team that has expertise in social work. However, I got the chance to work with Dr. Dora Tam and her team when I was an intern at Innovate Calgary. I started working on the project ‘Children and Youth Mental Health’ which is focused on the issue of mental health among youth. As a software engineer, my main role was to design and develop a gamified product that would ultimately help the youth in alleviating their mental issues.


The thing that makes this team so good is the involvement of the expert professionals from the diverse fields. There are experts in the field of social work, technical experts, professors, and people with industrial experience. Involvement of such professionals provides a lot of opportunity and scope for the self growth, and you get to learn not only about your own field but other fields as well. I personally am very grateful that I got a chance to work with this team. I couldn’t find a better opportunity than this to kick-start my career.


Research Assistant

July 2021

In July of 2021, I began my practicum journey with the Child Youth Mental Health Project. It was an
absolute pleasure to work with each member of the team. There were people across the province
working together. I could have taken a practicum in my city, but this allowed me to see mental
health through micro, mezzo, and macro lens.

Before this journey, I had not yet investigated photovoice or really knew what this was.
Through the photovoice method, the children and youth were able to give their own voice to their
needs and we can see just a glimpse of this through their eyes or photos. Coming from an
Indigenous background my traditional ways of being are grounded in relationship and sharing. This
project complimented that and was able to not only cater to the dominant society but those of
minority backgrounds as well. Living in Grande Prairie Alberta, our community is often forgotten
about when it comes to the voices of our people. We are considered rural and those who live in the
county and other areas around our area are often left behind more so. The mental health of the
people in our region has been languishing and services often slow. I see the benefits of this project
not only assisting individuals but bringing the community together to create greater change in the
form of better understanding our needs.

 There are also gaps in the services that are available to Grande Prairie and area residents, this project may allow some clarity on those gaps. As a practicum student, this project changed the way I look at mental health and how we can get the
answers we need to offer the services others may need. As a community member, this project is
vital to our collective work as human service workers and better understanding the needs of our

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