On Monday I got to visit our amazing youth in Burlington, who are with our partner agency Woodview Mental Health and Autism Services! Getting to see our different groups, and the incredible work they’re doing in their communities has always been the most rewarding and exciting part of the work I get to do.
Every group is different and brings their own unique twist to advocacy. Visiting the young trailblazers apart of the youth 4 youth New Mentality group in Burlington was an absolute blast! We started off the meeting getting to know one another, and I got to share some of the exciting work the New Mentality will be doing this year, along with sharing our network’s favourite summer leadership retreat – Disable the Label, which is only a few months away!
The youth shared with me the Coffee House they are planning to have during Children’s Mental Health Week, where they will share the work they do as a New Mentality group in the Halton region. This Coffee House will have youth bands, artwork, and so much more!
The youth also shared with me that they have been working on creating a video that will showcase how to navigate services at Woodview. It can be challenging and a bit daunting trying to navigate the child and youth mental health system, and this video will provide an opportunity for young people to better understand services, and how to access them.
After sharing a bit about the work the New Mentality has been up to, as well as hearing the projects the youth are working on, we started painting artwork for the Coffee House! It was a lot of fun, just painting and laughing with one another.
It was also an opportunity to hear about what is needed in the system. One youth shared that there needs to be more discussions around anti-oppression both within the system, as well as the New Mentality as a network. The lack of overall diversity and equity in the system, has created a lack of conversation at both a service provider level and at a government level. This was an opportunity for all of us to have an open and honest conversation around some of the big challenges within the child and youth mental health sector.
One statement that stood out right from the start was when a young leader in the group shared the impact the group has had on him. He shared that he feels empowered when he helps other youth who may be experiencing the same challenges he is currently facing. The New Mentality group has allowed him to feel a sense of hope about the future.
I always leave New Mentality groups feeling incredibly proud, and genuinely excited to see how these young people will help to shape the future of the child and youth mental health system. It is always a privilege getting to meet such amazing and enthusiastic youth across the province. Looking forward to continuing to see the magic these young people will bring to their community!