Youth Action Committee Launches Youth-Led Policy Project, From Crisis to Quality


At the 2018 CMHO Conference, The New Mentality’s and Children’s Mental Health Ontario’s joint Youth Action Committee (YAC) is excited to release their third youth-led policy paper, From Crisis to Quality, which is aimed directly at service providers to help build a child and youth mental health system in Ontario that is one of quality, continuity, and that meets the needs of all children and youth of diverse backgrounds. In addition to the release of this groundbreaking policy paper, the YAC will be releasing policy recommendations for the Ontario Provincial Government.

To learn more about this project and access the full policy paper and government recommendations click here 



Youth Action Committee Applications Open! Deadline January 2 at noon!

The Youth Action Committee (YAC) is currently recruiting for a Co-Chair and Committee Members for the 2018 group cycle!

About The yac

The Youth Action Committee (YAC) is a provincial advisory committee, made up of youth aged 16-25 who work to reduce stigma and improve mental health services for children and youth through youth-led policy recommendations. The YAC identifies a major issue youth experiencing mental health difficulties in Ontario are facing and sets out to find out how youth think we can solve these complex issues. Following province wide youth consultations, the YAC works with Children’s Mental Health Ontario’s (CMHO) policy team to generate youth-led policy recommendations. The group works together to deliver findings and recommendations to stakeholders responsible for change.    

About This year’s Project  

In 2018 the YAC released their third youth-led policy paper, From Crisis to Quality, which is aimed directly at service providers to help build a child and youth mental health system in Ontario that is one of quality, continuity, and that meets the needs of all children and youth of diverse backgrounds. In addition to the release of this ground-breaking policy paper, the YAC released policy recommendations for the Ontario Provincial Government.

In 2019, the YAC will continue to work on their project from Crisis to Quality. The focus of the 2019 committee will be to work with service providers and government to implement the youth-led recommendations from the project. As a YAC member, your role will be to help us move the recommendations into implementation. 

To learn more about this project click here

To learn more about the Youth Action Committee click here

About The Roles 

Committee Member 

YAC members are expected to attend 3-4 weekend meetings held in Toronto between January-November 2018 (all travel, accommodation, and meal expenses will be covered) and participate in monthly conference calls. YAC Committee members will create a plan to turn the 2018 Crisis to Quality youth-led recommendations into action!  Members are expected to work in a team environment, communicate regularly between meetings, and work individually on assignments and tasks with New Mentality staff.


In addition, the YAC Co-Chairs are responsible for working with New Mentality staff to plan and facilitate meetings. The Co-Chairs may also check-in with committee members between meetings, organize meeting logistics including organizing travel and assist members with travel to and from meetings within Toronto. Co-Chairs will play a significant leadership role in the YAC project management; including overseeing deadlines and planning.

Desired Skills, knowledge, and experience 

Teamwork Conflict resolution
Emotional awareness/holding space Understanding/experience with youth engagement 
Understanding/experience of public policy Project management skills 
Experience on committees or similar projects Capacity to work remotely 
Connection to mental health  Group Facilitation (small groups and/or  larger events)
Harvesting Understanding of Ontario’s provincial government 
Time management Strong self-care strategies 

Application Tips!

  • Read the Crisis to Quality Policy Paper for service providers and Policy Recommendations for government before you complete the application. You can find them here
  • We encourage you to aim to answer each question in about a paragraph. Although your answers don’t need to be very long, this is your chance to tell us about yourself and why you think you are a good candidate for the YAC. 
  • The above list of ‘desired skills, knowledge, and experience’ is just a list of things we are looking for in YAC members. We are not expecting any one person to have each one of these skills so on your application try to highlight in your answers the things on this list that you are strong in. And if there is something that you’re really good at that’s not on this list, let us know on your application! 
  • Don’t try to fit into a box of what you think we’re looking for, just be yourself! The YAC is made up of youth from across the province with a variety of different background, skills, and life experience, so it’s important on your application to be true to yourself.
  • Review the questions before you enter the online application. To view a PDF of the application click here.

APPLICATIONS DUE Wednesday, JANUARY 2, 2019 at noon

If completing this written application is a barrier to you applying in any way let us know! You can email at and we’ll make other arrangements for you to apply. 

If you have a question about the application, please feel free to contact us at 


Response to today’s government announcement and reported elimination of the Ontario Child Advocate Office

Evidence shows that kids and youth are not getting the mental health treatment they deserve, when and where they need it. With the elimination of the Ontario Child Advocate Office, young people will no longer have an independent voice to advocate for them.

“Eliminating this office equates to an attempt to muzzle the voices and concerns of children and youth.” said Mary-Anne Leahy of The New Mentality. “Young people have the right to receive equal services and treatment and to voice their preferences to an independent advocacy body.”

Data shows that children and youth across the province are struggling to receive the critical lifesaving mental health treatment they need. Currently, the Child and Youth Mental Health system is bursting at its seams, with children and youth waiting up to 18 months to receive treatment. The system has been chronically underfunded and, therefore, can’t meet the needs of children, youth and families seeking treatment. Without timely, quality, and on-going treatment options for children and youth we are putting our young people’s future at risk creating an uphill battle for them to emerge as successful, mentally healthy adults who contribute positively to their communities. We are calling on the government to address the urgent funding crisis plaguing the child and youth mental health system in its 2019 Provincial Budget. 

TNM to host four free safeTALK Trainings in November 2018

In 2018 The New Mentality will host a total of 10 safeTALK trainings across the Province. This project was made possible from a grant received from the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund. This project will improve the New Mentality’s youth and adult allies’ capacity to support suicide first aid in their communities. Through this initiative, 250 youth and adult allies will be trained to recognize when thoughts of suicide are present, how to directly ask if someone is having thoughts of suicide, and the appropriate steps to take action by connecting them with life-saving intervention resources.

In November 2018 we will host 4 free trainings in partnership with four TNM Groups

Children’s Centre Thunder Bay

Date: Saturday, November 10, 2018
Time: 10am-2pm
Location: Insight (594 Memorial Avenue, Thunder Bay) 
To register email the New Mentality’s adult Ally Hannah at 

Peel Children’s Centre 

Date: Saturday, November 17, 2018
Time: 12-4pm
Location: TDB, Mississauga
To register email the New Mentality’s adult Ally Omar at


Date: Friday, November 23, 2018
Time: 10am-2pm
Location: Danielle’s Place (895 Brant Street Unit #3, Burlington) 
To register email the New Mentality’s adult Ally Erica at

Peterborough Youth Services

Date: Friday, November 23, 2018
Time: 11am-2:30pm
Location: Peterborough Public Library, Multipurpose Room  
To register send your name, age, and any questions to 

About safeTALK 

safeTALK is an half-day alertness training that prepares anyone over the age of 15, regardless of prior experiences or training, to become a suicide-alert helper. safeTALK has found that most people with thoughts of suicide don’t truly want to die, but are struggling with the pain in their lives. Through their words and actions, they invite help to stay alive.  safeTALK-trained helpers can recognize these invitations and take action by connecting them with life-saving intervention resources, such as Ontario’s community-based mental health system. 

Disable The Label 2018 Day-by-Day Walk Through

Each year for the past 11 years, The New Mentality has hosted our annual summer leadership training retreat known as Disable the Label (DTL) for youth organizers in the mental health system. The event brings together over 100 participants, including youth leaders, community organizers, and adult allies from across the province, who gather to learn and enhance their youth engagement skills, share their local projects, and build meaningful connections. At Disable the Label, together we grow our capacity to be mental health advocates and use our voices to make a positive change in the children’s mental health system in Ontario.

Disable the Label 2018 was the next step in The New Mentality’s evolution. As always, we focused on youth leadership, youth engagement in mental health, and our efforts and aspirations toward system change. With the growth of the network, so too did the scope of our intentions widen to become more intentional towards anti-oppressive practices and spaces.

Day One

The first day was about arriving. Finding the balance between getting out of our comfort zones and allowing space for our electrified nerves to settle as we began to meet new friends and settle into the DTL experience. As a way to nourish meaningful connections, youth and adult allies were placed into “Crews,” which were small sub-groups of 8-10 people who we spent the next four days together learning, growing, and supporting each other through the different sessions and activities. Our Crews allowed us to meet and interact with others doing change-making work around child and youth mental health and our peers practicing youth engagement across the province. It can be nerve-wracking to step away from the familiarity of our New Mentality home groups, but each person was willing to try.

In our Crews, we created flags that encouraged us to explore who we are as individuals – looking as deeply and sharing as much as we felt comfortable with – and looking at the identity of our newly formed Crew. Each Crew approached the flag in a unique way. Some had each crew member design a fabric patch to show some of who they were individually and then created a separate, collective patch that represented their Crews; others created one flag patch to which everyone contributed, while others worked on their individual patches and found ways to piece it together to showcase the collective group. Although some of our Crews approached the activity in different ways, at the end of the activity each Crew had beautiful and creative flags that represented who they were as individuals and as a collective.   

Day Two

One of the cornerstones of DTL is that we create our space together, in a workshop known as Braver Space. Braver Space is a session that explores how we can be in a more honest relationship with ourselves, with each other, and with the land. As a group, we create vulnerable expressions of our individual needs and offerings in order to thrive over the upcoming week and tend to the collective needs of the group. Some of the needs listed included compassion, humour, and non-judgement, while offerings ranged from jokes to hugs to compassionate listening and support.   

The afternoon brought us into an anti-oppression workshop. Since we were all approaching the subject from different levels of understanding, this workshop was intended to be an introduction to what oppression is and how we see it manifested in our daily lives. We explored the different ways we group ourselves – our commonalities and our differences – as a way to sink into the idea of marginalization and oppression. Digging deeper, we looked at societal messaging, systemic oppression and discrimination, and how those influences play out in our day-to-day lives. As we walked along the barriers faced by different marginalized groups, we turned our gazes towards our own New Mentality groups to ask ourselves what barriers might exist for others to join and what solutions might be laying next to them, yet to be uncovered.

In the evening we focused on caring for ourselves and having fun! We took the time to look after our own individual needs in order to re-energize for the next two days of DTL. We sought out lightheartedness and relaxation. From frisbee to magic tricks, poetry to music jam sessions, yoga to basketball, to journaling and even bracelet making, there were a variety of activities to choose from, each led by DTL participants.   

Day Three

On the morning of day three, we followed the energy from the previous day. Rather than doing our planned World Cafe, we opened with ceremony, acknowledging our individual journeys through oppressive spaces, the emotions stirred, and then intertwining ourselves to move together, united. Space was held for introducing ourselves to the entire circle – to see others and to be seen ourselves – in order to find comfort in the connections with those around us. 

The afternoon brought us into several concurrent sessions, including a safeTALK training, an Adult Ally session, and a youth engagement session hosted by the Office of the Ontario Child Advocate.

Adult Ally Session: In the last few years, this has become an annual session, providing space for adult allies to have one-on-one time with each other. It offers the opportunity for them to discuss current challenges as well as share in successes and how they were achieved.

SafeTALK: With the growth of our work around child and youth mental health and the practice of youth engagement, it is important to ensure that youth have the capacity to hold these conversations while remaining safe themselves.

About SafeTALK: safeTALK is a half-day alertness training that prepares anyone 15 or older, regardless of prior experience or training, to become a suicide-alert helper. Most people with thoughts of suicide don’t truly want to die but are struggling with the pain in their lives. Through their words and actions, they invite help to stay alive. safeTALK-trained helpers can recognize these invitations and take action by connecting them with life-saving intervention resources, such as caregivers trained in ASIST.

OCA Session: The Ontario Child Advocate brought a team of Youth Amplifiers and staff to deliver a workshop on youth engagement. The workshop looked at how the OCA incorporates youth engagement into its work and supports youth-led projects, with a focus on the Feathers of Hope project.

As we moved into our final activity, a series of art stations, we returned to art as a way to hold and express conversations around our roles in youth engagement. We broke into smaller groups and had conversations about leadership, and explored what each of our own authentic leadership looks like. Through painting, poetry, drama, and sewing/mixed media, these discussions were guided by things we had learned along our journeys at home, as well as pulling in new learning from the past few days. We explored the different roles we carry at different times, as well as what we need to feel empowered within these roles.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Disable the Label without the Talent Not Required show. Organized and emceed by DTL participants, Nick and Murphy, it was a night to share poetry, music, dance, etc. Regardless of how silly or random, each person stepping forward – daring to be so vulnerable – was truly held and supported by all.

Day Four

On our last day together, youth and adult allies had the chance to set the agenda through an Open Space session. Fed by our own unique experiences, this knowledge exchange encouraged us to call our own sessions based on something we wanted to offer as a teaching or to further explore any topics that burned inside us. Building on this momentum, after our Open Space session we returned to our home groups in order to share what each of us had learned over the week. This was a time for looking forward – where was each group heading? – and using our learning to inform on our direction. This was a time for action planning – how can we arrive at our goal? – to pull from our collective knowledge to guide us.

The end of day four signalled the end of the week, and we brought our time together to a close in circle. Each Bandana Crew presented their flag – snippets of individual stories that were woven together. Beneath open skies, we honoured those who have been with The New Mentality over the years – the ones returning and welcomed in the newness. We breathed in the wisdom of our elders, of generations before us, and opened our hearts to the connections between us, silent beneath the surface. Messages of family, formed outside of genetic codes, whispered that we are not alone on our journeys and hinted towards all we can accomplish when we are united – the magic that we are.

Written in Collaboration with Caitlin Robb and TNM Staff