Y Mind and Mind Medicine Expansion

YMCA of British Columbia

Y Mind and Mind Medicine Expansion

The project proposes to scale up and expand the YMCA BC’s Y Mind and Mind Medicine evidence based early intervention and prevention programs to 28 communities in six provinces. Programs support teens (age 13-18) and youth (18-30) experiencing mild to moderate anxiety in learning effective coping skills and improving their overall well-being using principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Mindfulness techniques. The Mind Medicine program is provided by indigenous serving community organizations; who use the Y Mind curriculum with the freedom and flexibility to bring connection to culture.

Lead organization: YMCA of British Columbia

Scaling up and expanding the YMCA BC’s Y Mind and Mind Medicine programs which aim to enhance coping skills and overall wellbeing of young people in Canada.


Y Mind: Teens (13-18 years) and youth (18-30 years) who are experiencing stress, worries and mild-moderate anxiety.

Y Medicine: Teens (13-18 years) and youth (18-30 years) that are members of the Indigenous community and who are experiencing stress, worries and mild-moderate anxiety.



  • Promote mental wellness for youth and young adults.
  • Address the gap in accessible mental health services.
  • Enhance the capacity of YMCAs and communities across Canada to meet the surge in demand for mental health promotion and prevention programs.
  • Extend necessary mental health supports to rural and remote communities, as well as Indigenous communities, where services are currently unavailable.
  • Equip service providers, school partners and community members to address mental health needs of priority populations.


Y Mind is a 7-week, psychoeducational group that meets weekly for 2.5 hours. Program sessions are run by skilled mental health professionals who have experience supporting youth mental health.

Mind Medicine is an adaptation of the Y Mind program. It was designed to be culturally safe, trauma-informed and tailored to the needs of Indigenous youth.

Both programs support youth and teens to overcome barriers to accessing timely and appropriate support by:

  • Providing access to services at no cost to youth, many of whom are low income and cannot afford to pay.
  • Providing a social support network for isolated youth experiencing mental health problems.
  • Teaching personal health practices and coping skills, including strategies to deal with anxiety.
  • Offering mental health programming in a non-stigmatizing community setting, rather than a clinical setting, for youth without requiring a diagnosis or medical referral.
  • Delivering a non-pathologizing and strengths-based program that helps young people to identify their values and accomplish their goals.



  • Community

Implementation sites

  • YMCAs and other community-based organizations/Indigenous serving community organizations across Canada


  • Many young people describe the current mental health services as a demoralizing, inaccessible and stigmatizing experience facing several barriers including long waitlists, high costs and complex eligibility criteria.
  • Y Mind program grew out of an identified need for low-barrier access to culturally safe, trauma informed mental health programs and services for teens and youth in British Columbia.
  • Mind Medicine addresses the disparity in mental health outcomes among Indigenous youth by providing a culturally safe, trauma-informed program tailored to their needs.
  • Based on the success of the province-wide expansion of the Y Mind and Mind Medicine programs in BC, the YMCA would like to support the expansion of these programs to other provinces across the country, including rural and remote communities as well as Indigenous communities.


In the words of the project team members

“Part of the secret sauce of the program is the youth-to-youth connection. They’re hearing from others who are feeling the same way, feeling just as isolated. They learn coping skills that are provided through the facilitators, then walk through activities and try on the supports that work for them.”

Key protective factors

  • Social and emotional skills
  • Cultural connectedness and identity
  • Healthy relationships with peers
  • Access to health and support services
  • Coping
  • Involvement in community and group activities

Key approaches

  • Mindfulness
  • Culturally-informed Acceptance and Commitment Therapy











Public Health Agency of Canada news release