Breakout sessions are an important and engaging part of a youth summit event for a number of reasons:
- They give youth a chance to discuss their thoughts, feelings, and ideas about what was shared earlier in the day
- Youth consistently express a desire to have a voice at an event, and breakout sessions are a great way to give them an opportunity to do that
- Your speakers and MC’s have likely started an important discussion about mental health, and breakout sessions give the opportunity to include everyone else in that conversation
- It gives everyone space to debrief, reflect, and learn from others
- By having space for inclusive discussion during the day you’re providing students an opportunity to have that information reaffirmed in conversations with their peers
Lastly, it gives youth a chance to brainstorm action items to carry on after the event is over. A mental health summit goes a long way in changing the stigma surrounding mental health, but real change will be seen in the ongoing actions that happen after the event is over. A youth summit event is only one day, so giving attendees a chance to brainstorm how they’ll promote mental health and wellness the rest of the year is important.
Breakout sessions take a degree of coordination to ensure they’re both safe and engaging. The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) Headstrong Anti-Stigma Summit Planning toolkit outlines this planning process. You can find breakout facilitator guidelines, sample activities, and breakout session outlines in the tool-kit. It’s a wonderful place to get you started!