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Our Veteran and Family engagement framework, Engaging with Veterans and Families: Creating a new approach to collaboration aims to improve our shared understanding of how Veterans and Veteran Families prefer to be engaged in research and participate in knowledge development projects and initiatives. The framework provides evidence-based principles and practical strategies to facilitate meaningful engagement with Veterans and their Families in the mental health sector.

While engagement in the mental health sector, services and research is not a new concept, it is an innovative approach within the Veteran and Veteran Family mental health sector. Designed for mental health organizations, service providers and other systems partners, the framework provides guidance and thought leadership to organizational leaders, policy makers, service providers, researchers and others within the mental health sector.

We recognize the importance of incorporating the voices, experiences and expertise of Veterans and Veteran Families into the mental health system to better address their specific needs. Engaging Veterans and Veteran Families is crucial to the Atlas Institute and a key principle in the blueprint guiding our work towards a transformed, Veteran and Family-centred mental health system. This resource serves as a starting point for defining and understanding Veteran and Veteran Family engagement and involvement within the mental health sector in Canada.

What’s inside?

The complete Veteran and Family engagement framework describes in detail the historical and current context of engaging people with lived experience in research and services that affects them directly. It offers principles, strategies and references to support the engagement of Veterans and their Families in Canada.

The framework includes the following sections:

  • The current state of Veteran and Family engagement in the mental health system in Canada
  • Evidence-based principles and practices for creating meaningful engagement
  • Strategies to assist organizations in engaging with Veterans and Families
  • Benefits and outcomes resulting from engagement

Engaging with Veterans and Families: Creating a new approach to collaboration

The Atlas Institute has also developed a brief guide for organizations wanting to find out more about applying engagement principles and strategies in practice.

Brief guide to the Veteran and Family engagement framework

Print-friendly version: Brief guide to the Veteran and Family engagement framework

Videos about the framework and its key benefits

The following videos offer considerations and tangible strategies to better engage Veterans and Families and ensure that initiatives are informed by lived experience and expertise, helping to create sustainable, positive outcomes for all.

Accessibility features: Closed captioning is available for these videos. To enable this feature, select CC in the bottom-right of the video player.

Engaging with Veterans and Families: Creating a new approach to collaboration

Practical strategies for engaging Veterans and Veteran Families in mental health services

How the framework was created

The framework was developed with valuable input from an external advisory committee comprising Veterans, Veteran Families, researchers and service providers, co-led by the Atlas Institute’s National Strategic Advisor for Veteran Families. This process included consultations with the Atlas Institute’s reference group members and comprehensive reviews of existing literature on engagement within the Veteran context and beyond.



Applying evidence-based engagement principles and practices can minimize risks to organizations and to Veteran and Veteran Family member participants and can help improve health outcomes. Veteran and Veteran Family member engagement has the potential to strengthen Veteran mental health care and can support recovery if done safely, by building social connections and empowering Veterans and their Families.

Together, we can transform the mental health system into one that is guided by, and honours, the wisdom of those with lived experience, and which is responsive to the needs of Veterans and Veteran Families.