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Recruiting and Logistics (Phase II)

Y5 diverse teens smiling and chatting around a table with a laptopAB members are stakeholders. A stakeholder is an individual or group of individuals who have an interest in and/or are affected by a project or program hosted by an organization. Stakeholders can include people from the community, partnering and/or collaborating members of another organization, and people that have a strong passion or interest in each project. Projects will have multiple diverse stakeholder groups based on a variety of topics or missions (e.g., community of focus, parents and families, providers, policymakers, race or ethnicity, lived experience, age, and many more). 

For Example:

If your organization is focused on helping those in poverty by getting them shelter, then your stakeholder group would be those in the community who are experiencing or have experienced homelessness. Stakeholder groups should be made up of people who are impacted by the work you do! 

Throughout this section of the toolkit, we will discuss the planning that goes into recruitment, how recruitment can be accomplished, and some important things to look for while recruiting. 

Recruitment Planning

How to recruit young adults with mental health conditions

icon clipboard with pencil and bullhornKeep in mind that youth and young adults are a diverse group of individuals that come from different backgrounds and communities, and experience a variety of mental health conditions. Recruitment is vital to setting the culture of your YAB. Think deliberately about the ways to reach large populations of young adults and utilize multiple recruitment methods such as:

  • In-person
    • Tabling at access centers, college campuses, your agency, schools, gyms, community centers, malls, multicultural events, relevant clubs, and conventions
    • Talking with people as they walk by and handing out information regarding your advisory board
    • Having current members present to, meet with, and answer questions for prospective members to help them get a feel for the YAB culture 
  • Social Media
    • TikTok, Facebook posts/groups/pages, X (Twitter), Instagram
    • Online survey links/QR codes
    • Having young adults make sure recruitment materials are relevant to your target audience
  • Word of mouth
    • Reaching out to others in your network through conversation, phone calls, and emails
    • Passing along the word to friends, family, and community leaders
    • Posting flyers on local community bulletin boards and college campuses

Youth face many obstacles and it is important to keep in mind that they may not always have access to the same resources, which is why it is important to utilize multiple platforms. Based on your organization’s needs and stakeholders, identify:

  • Required criteria for YAB members
    • Age (e.g., 18-30)
      • Note: If your organization wants to recruit YAB members under the age of 18, you will need to obtain permission from parents/guardians.
    • Mental health condition (self-disclosed)
    • State of residency (State-based or national YAB)
  • Desired attributes for YAB members include member diversity in the following areas:
    • Age
    • Gender
    • Race
    • Ethnicity
    • Sexuality
    • Education
    • Mental Health Condition
    • Socio-economic status

To attract young adults with mental health conditions your recruitment materials should specify that your organization is interested in:

  1. Learning about their lived experiences with mental health conditions.
  2. Receiving their feedback to your organization to make positive change.

Recruitment materials should explicitly state that your organization values diverse experiences and perspectives and are encouraging individuals who identify as Black, Indigenous, or person of color (BIPOC), LGBTQIA+, and represent diverse socioeconomic and educational levels to apply.

  • Include optional questions in application and interviews asking about applicant’s unique experiences to help increase the diversity of board members.
  • Partner with cultural organizations and university groups/clubs for marginalized young adults to recruit diverse members. 
  • Inviting qualified members with diverse experiences and identities directly to apply.
  • Consider different languages during the recruiting and planning process, as well as when developing materials or budgeting. 

Informational Resources:

What will you say during recruitment?

Once you have identified the areas in which you will be recruiting, you will want to create an elevator pitch for your YAB! An elevator pitch is a 30 to 60-second summary you would give to someone that you want to get support or participation from. 

Your elevator pitch should include:

  • Who you are
  • Why you want to create a YAB
  • The goals of the YAB
  • Why you would like them to be involved
  • Next steps if interested 

Download our Elevator Pitch Example

Application Process

icon application with check marks and magnifying glassYour YAB application should be short and sweet. At the top of the application, include a small summary of your organization, the purpose of the YAB, and any requirements you have for members (e.g., age, geographic location, mental health condition). You can include links to your organization or the recruitment flyer you are using for your YAB for members to find more information.

For example:

“The Transitions to Adulthood Center for Research is a research center that focuses on improving the education and employment outcomes of youth and young adults with serious mental health conditions. We are in the Department of Psychiatry at UMass Chan Medical School. We are seeking young adults between the ages of 18-30 with serious mental health conditions to join our young adult advisory board.”

The application should also ask for basic information such as: 

  • Confirm that they are in the age range you want
  • Full name 
  • Pronouns (ex. She/her, they/them, he/him)
  • Contact information (email and phone number)
  • State

It should also include some open-ended questions such as:

  • Interest in being part of your advisory board
  • Skills the participant may bring to the table
  • Why they feel they would be a good fit
  • Their experiences with having a mental health condition
  • Any obstacles they faced (e.g., language barrier, racism, cultural, insurance, location, access, immigration status, not age-appropriate, etc.) in their search for services/treatment
  • Ask them to describe their thoughts and commitment to inclusivity, equity, and justice

Finally have a closing statement that lets the interested party know what the next steps are. 

For example:

“Thank you for your interest in our young adult advisory board. You should receive an application confirmation email shortly. Our team will be reviewing applications in the next few weeks. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to ‘”

Download our Example Application

Accessibility considerations: If possible, create an online application (e.g., Survey Monkey or REDcap, Google Forms) or allow applicants to email in their applications. 

  • It is generally more youth-friendly to have an application that can be completed on a smartphone, tablet, or computer than expecting them to print it out & scan or mail it back.
  • When creating your application & recruitment materials, consider that some youth might use assistive technology such as screen readers to access them. Check out the flyer below on best practices for making materials accessible!

Find more accessibility tips: Guide to Creating Accessible Flyers 

Secure Storage: Before requesting applications, create a procedure for securely storing job applications, which will contain personal contact information & details.

  • Your team should create a password-protected folder or shared drive to store online/emailed applications on.
  • If you are having applicants submit physical applications or plan to print out the applications to review, identify a locked filing cabinet or drawer to store these applications.
  • Make sure only those involved in the YAB hiring process have access to where the applications are securely stored
  • As with any other personal or identifying information, the contents of an application should not be shared with or discussed with anyone outside of the hiring process

Job Descriptions

Job descriptions are an important part of a youth board. Having a job description will help them to prepare for future employment. This job description should encompass the tasks, duties, functions, and responsibilities of their membership. 

  • The job description could be used for marketing purposes when recruiting new members to the board. It should be shared when interviewing a potential member and when offering a position to a young adult. 
  • Opportunities for resume building are very beneficial for young adults. Provide them with titles and activities that they can use to describe their time on the board. Offer to help with phrasing on their resume if they need it. 

Example Job Descriptions & Member Agreement

Example Youth Liasion Job Description


icon male and female interviewing with talk bubblesInterviews with young adults with mental health conditions - Conduct interviews with new members to get to know them and see how they would contribute to a new or existing board.  Explain the purpose of the board and discuss logistical aspects. Interviews can be nerve-wracking for anyone, but especially for young adults with mental health conditions. Keep in mind that this may be their first “real” interview for a professional, compensated position. Interviews can be completed individually or in a group. Depending on where you are recruiting candidates for the YAB you may do in-person or virtual interviews.

For example:

While recruiting for the YAB we offer group interviews. Each interview is about 1 hour, includes 3-5 possible candidates, and takes place over a Zoom call. Ahead of time, the YAB facilitators come up with general interview questions, and slides containing those questions and information regarding the YAB to share with the candidates. Interviews include introductions, an ice breaker, and time for us and them to ask and answer questions. 

How to conduct an interview - Interviews can be conducted in multiple ways such as individually, in a group, in person, or online; and conducted by one individual or multiple. Think through with your team what the best approach would be based on available time for recruitment and interviewing, staff interest and skills, and geographic and COVID logistics. Here are three ways to break down the interviewing process:

  1. Before the meeting: Identify your interview team! Your interview team should meet to go through all applicants and make a collaborative decision on who your interview pool will be. Together, develop a standardized set of interview questions.
  2. During the meeting: Introduce yourselves, explain the purpose of the board, and review the expectations. Ask your planned interview questions and follow up as needed. Be sure to invite the candidate to ask you any questions they might have. Take down notes to review together later.
  3. After the meeting: Review interview notes, discuss candidates, and collectively decide who you would like to extend an offer to. Follow up with all candidates individually thanking them for their time and interest and communicating whether they are being extended an offer to join the YAB at this time. See below for more details on selecting members.

Recruitment Group Interview Questions


icon stamp of approvalAfter the interview process, your team should meet to decide on the best YAB candidates. Keep in mind that not all candidates may be a good fit for the board. When looking through candidates, look for similarities between candidates as well as differences. It is also important to think about the dynamics of the board. You want to ensure that:

  • All board members feel comfortable with each other (e.g., Respecting each other's pronouns)
  • The applicant’s interest in the board meets the goals of the board
  • You have members with different backgrounds and experiences (sometimes you get too many similar applicants and must make hard decisions and pick just one)
  • Members respect others' turn to speak
  • You choose members who will be able to speak to why your organization created such a board
  • Members are not only interested in advocacy (unless that is why your organization created the board)

How to evaluate candidates - Check candidates’ credentials such as work, school, and volunteer experience. You may find that young adults with mental health conditions may not have any of the experience, and this could be their first position to gain experience. Not having experience should not disqualify them from becoming a YAB member because having a serious mental health condition can make it difficult for a person to apply for employment. Instead, we find it useful to hire members from an array of backgrounds with some having work experience, and others having none. 

If you choose to ask candidates for references, consider the different types of references they may have. Not all candidates will have work experience or professional references, but this does not need to disqualify them. Different types could potentially include teachers, coaches, peers, family members, or other character references. Take into consideration when to ask candidates for their references, for example, during the application process or after an interview. 

When making decisions on new members think about how (during the interview) the candidates interacted, how they answered the questions, and their interpersonal skills. If recruiting to an existing board, think about how the candidate would fit in and if they fill a gap that your organization really needs to hear from.

How to reject candidates - Not everyone who applies, and interviews will be the right fit for your advisory board at this time. Some candidates might have excellent experience, but not bring unique perspectives to the current board. Rejection isn’t fun for anyone involved, but best practices are:

  • Don’t ghost candidates – communicate with them via email that they have not been selected
  • Thank them for their interest in being on the YAB and their time applying and interviewing
  • Share other potential opportunities if available (i.e., other advisory boards, focus groups, research activities with similar focus)
  • Ask if you can reach out to them again in the future

Example Rejection email

Candidates that you wish to offer a position to should receive an offer letter, scope of work, and a W-9 or contract (these may differ depending on your organization’s process and procedures). 

Offer Letter

An offer letter should be given to a prospective YAB member that you would like to have on the board. It should express the organization's excitement to welcome a new member. The offer letter should include the start date, compensation rate, and a general description of tasks. 

Example Offer Letter

Scope of Work

A scope of work is a basic contractual agreement that YAB members and your organization will be held accountable to. It should outline information such as compensation rate, their responsibilities, and the frequency of YAB meetings.

Example of Scope of Work Outline

Attendance Policy

icon outline of a calendarAn attendance policy clearly states the expectations for attending meetings and communicating if you need to miss a meeting or leave early. It may also outline after what number of absences or late meetings YAB membership will be re-evaluated. Include your attendance policy in onboarding materials to ensure everyone is on the same page about these expectations.

For Example:  

Our current YAB attendance policy is that YAB members should give 48 hours' notice if they are unable to attend a meeting & 24 hours' notice if they need to join or leave a meeting early (except for emergencies). If any member misses 3 meetings without prior communication, their YAB membership may be re-evaluated. Members will only be compensated for the meetings they attend & the time they are in attendance.

It is important to strike a balance between accountability & understanding in setting & enforcing your attendance policy. Consider:

  • Attendance and participation are the responsibility of the YAB as a group, not any individual member.
  • Not every member will be able to attend every meeting, and some meetings may have more participation than others.
  • Find a meeting time that works best for the majority of your YAB members using scheduling tools (e.g., Doodle, When2Meet).
  • Rather than punishing members who don’t attend meetings, work to increase attendance & participation by engaging and positively reinforcing those who do attend (See the Development & Retention section for strategies!)
  • If attendance and participation is low for several meetings raise this with members via email & consider recruiting for more members.

If your YAB is meeting virtually (e.g., via Zoom), it is beneficial to clearly define & discuss participation expectations around:

How often are members expected to have their cameras on?

  • Members should have the ability to turn their cameras off if they need a break or are having a bad mental health day.
  • Consider that not every member may have reliable internet access or a private space to attend meetings.
  • Is the expectation for people to message the facilitator if they need to have their cameras off, or do we trust them to make use of their discretion responsibly?

What is considered active participation? Is it:

  • Raising your hand?
  • Speaking out loud?
  • Typing in the chat
  • Having your cameras on
  • Attending the meeting

Can members participate if they can’t attend the meeting synchronously?

  • If a YAB member can’t attend a meeting time due to work, school, medical or other conflicts, consider giving them the option to review materials and submit comments in advance of the meeting via email.
  • Members can self-report and then be compensated for time spent on this asynchronous participation. 

It is important to remember that youth with mental health conditions may struggle with consistent attendance, participation, and communication due to mental health symptoms.

  • Some members will identify and communicate with facilitators if they are no longer able to be on the YAB. 
  • Some members will miss multiple meetings and stop responding to facilitator outreach. 
  • Understand that some young adults may not have the tools to effectively communicate if they no longer can or want to serve on the YAB.
  • Communicate to members that their mental health should come first, and it is okay if they have to take a step back or step down from the YAB.