This fall, Sarah Irving will be in Dublin representing Foundry at the 4th annual International Association for Youth Mental Health Conference.

In a lightning round presentation, Sarah will present on work she has been leading around the development of a provincial peer support training curriculum as part of her practicum for her social work degree.

Peer support is based on the belief that those who have experienced adversity can provide support, encouragement, hope, and mentorship to others facing similar situations. Research shows that young people feel more supported when they have access to peers with lived experience. Additionally, young people engaged as peer support workers benefit from employment experience, confidence built through meaningful work, and an opportunity to re-frame their lived experience as an asset. Sarah has been a peer support worker for six years in various capacities and has seen and felt the impact of peer services firsthand.

Currently, most youth peer support training in Canada is based on curriculum designed by, and for, adults over the age of 19. However, young people experience mental health, substance use, and accessing health services in very different ways than adults do. This need inspired Sarah and her team to develop a training specifically with, and for, youth.

All Foundry centres will offer peer support and navigation services as a core component of service delivery, and other partners who have collaborated on this project will also use the curriculum.

In addition to Sarah’s presentation, a submission led by Foundry’s evaluation lead, Oluseyi Oyedele has been accepted for a poster presentation, and Steve Mathias, executive director of Foundry, will participate on a panel discussion led by a young person and will co-facilitate a workshop.

The IAYMH Conference brings together leaders from around the world who are dedicated to creating positive change in youth mental health. This year’s conference takes place in Dublin, Ireland, September 24 to 26. To learn more about the conference visit