A Message to Our Community

June 9, 2020

Hello to our New Mentality Community,

As many of you may know we have been hosting an 8 week virtual Disable the Label leadership program. For those who attended last week, week 5,  you saw that we switched our sessions to be responsive to world events including the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet in Toronto. We held conversations on anti-racism, specifically anti-black racism. From those conversations, there was a clear need and desire within our network to continue this conversation. 

Since we do mental health advocacy work in Ontario, we must ensure that our practices are embedded in anti-oppressive and anti-racist frameworks. The New Mentality is committed to hosting conversations with our network to talk about racism within the mental health system in Ontario. We will focus on providing recommendations for change in the provincial system, in addition to examining our own network’s practices. We know we need to do better and are committing to a shift in our practice.

We are taking this moment in history to switch up our DTL programming to be responsive to the needs of our network and for those we advocate on behalf of. This work has been a priority to us but we did not think that the virtual platform would support the depth of conversations needed to be had. With the support from our hosting team and network, we have been able to. We are so proud that we are able to do this work. 

With that said, we will be taking a new approach for the remainder of this year’s DTL.

Our approach moving forward: 

On Monday’s we will check-in as a collective group and have a facilitated guided discussion. 

On Wednesdays, we will work in our Affinity Groups (also known as Caucusing) to debrief and have more conversations. Affinity Groups intentionally create spaces to explore, share, heal, and unfold what is happening in a larger group by working in a smaller group of people who share similar experiences. As people of color and white people each have work to do separately (and together), we will create sub-groups based on racial identity called “racial identity affinity groups.” These caucuses provide space for people to do work within their racial/ethnic groups prior to coming together as a larger group to continue our work. In full transparency, we want to note that putting our racialized group into one group isn’t the best solution, as there are actually many sub-groups within that group. But as a team and with the knowledge and training we have as a hosting team this is how we have decided to move forward. 

On Thursdays, we will host a wellness night to hold space to have fun and relax. Together, we are doing important work that takes a lot of emotional energy, we need to make space to take care of ourselves and connect with others. Our intention is to have a space where we can come together as a community to laugh and feel joy together.   

We unequivocally stand by the #BlackLivesMatter movement and have made the commitment and promise to ensure that there is an anti-racism approach permanently engraved into the work of the New Mentality, not just for a couple weeks, not just for a month or a year, but forever.

If you have questions and or feedback please reach out to Mary-Anne Leahy, TNM’s Program Manager, mary-anne@thenewmentality.ca 

With love and gratitude,

Mary-Anne & Fizza