Minister Coteau and Provincial Advocate Irwin Elman Support Waiting For Change Recommendations

In November 2016 our provincial Youth Action Committee (YAC) met with Minster of Children and Youth Services, Micheal Coteau to discuss their newly released Zine, Waiting For Change. The Waiting for Change Zine is a collection of personal stories and youth-led policy recommendations to address the issue of wait times in the child and youth mental health system. To view the full Zine Click Here.

Minister Coteau sat down with members of The YAC to hear first hand how young people are currently experiencing the child and youth mental health system and to go over the recommendations to reduce wait times in Ontario. YAC members left with a feeling of hope and optimism that their voices were heard and feel confident child and youth mental health is a top priority for Minister Coteau. They look forward to future discussions with the Minister.

On November 30, Minister Coteau released a statement supporting the youth-led recommendations outlined in the Waiting for Change Zine. The New Mentality firmly believes that youth with mental illness must contribute to creating a better mental health system. Without their voice are system will never meet the needs of our young people. We are very encouraged to see Minister Coteau’s commitment to youth voice in the mental health system.

“We will continue to relay on the advice from young people and their families, from our Indigenous partners and from our independent officers of the legislature, such as the Auditor General, to develop a responsive system that positions all kids for success. In fact, just last week, I had the pleasure of meeting with young people from the New Mentality Youth Action Committee — a group of bright, engaging individuals from across the province who are working hard to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. I support the committee’s recommendations contained in Waiting for Change, as they will go a long way towards helping shape a stronger system in Ontario.”

For the full statement click here.

Before the release of the Waiting for Change Zine, TNM staff Caralyn Quan and Mary-Anne Leahy met with the Ontario Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, Irwin Elman, to give him a sneak peak of the Zine. We were again very encouraged by his positive response and support of the youth-led recommendations.

We are so proud of all the work our Youth Action Committee has done over the past two years to make this project happen. Under the leadership of 2015 Committee Chair Amanda Suleiman, 2016 Co-Chairs Nicole D’Souza and Beth Nowosad, and committee members, Matthew Leaton, Travis Franklin, Shannon Nagy, Chizara Anucha, Cherish Bluecoat, and Sabrina Gollan these young people proved once again what youth can do when given the right tools and support to amplify their voices.

To have the Minister of Children and Youth Services, Micheal Coteau and the Provincial Advocate Irwin Elman support the recommendations outlined by youth in this Zine sends a powerful message to young people across Ontario that the system is listening and that their voices matter.

The New Mentality is Accepting New Partner Agencies!

Throughout the sector, there is a growing sense of commitment to youth engagement and to finding ways for youth voice to be heard at all levels of the system. It is an exciting time of growth and opportunity.

The New Mentality is currently accepting new partner agencies to start New Mentality Groups. Starting a group and becoming part of the TNM network gives your organization access to implementation support, ongoing adult ally support, and special access to TNM events and initiatives. A detailed overview of our partnership requirements and benefits can be found here.

We will be hosting a Introduction to The New Mentality Webinar on Thursday, December 1 from 10-11am that will provide more information about The New Mentality, including how our youth groups are structured and the supports that we offer. We will also walk through the steps involved in launching a group. The intended audience includes Executive Directors, Clinical Directors, and potential Adult Allies (any staff within the agency that will be able to commit time toward supporting the TNM group).

To Register for the Webinar Click Here

Waiting for Change

Why “Waiting For Change”? In 2015 the Youth Action Committee members drew from their own personal experiences and stories told to them by other youth, that child and youth mental health wait lists were extremely long and was impacting their overall well-being. In response, the YAC hosted its inaugural Youth Mental Health Summit, Waiting for Change. The goal of the summit was to engage youth in the creation of specific policy recommendations to improve wait times for mental health services and to better support, children, youth and families when they are unable to access the treatment they need.

After two years of collecting stories and youth-led recommendations from other young people across the province to address the issue of wait times in the child and youth mental health system on Monday, November 21, our provincial Youth Action Committee released its first zine, Waiting for Change! This zine outlines four recommendations for how we can make change happen: two ideas to shorten wait times and two ideas for helping youth manage while they wait for services.

This Zine was written by the members of the 2016 Youth Action Committee and informed by the youth of Ontario.

To view the full Zine Click Here!

We would like to thank the members of the 2015 and 2016 Youth Action Committee, Amanda, Travis, Nicole, Sabrina, Matt, Zara, Cherish, Shannon, and Beth for dedicating their time, energy and passion to this project.

We would also like to thank the attendees of the 2015 Waiting For Change Youth Summit, Disable the Label 2016 participants, and all the other young people who shared their voice and ideas to improve wait times in Ontario. Finally, we would like to thank Children’s Mental Health Ontario for supporting the Youth Action Committee’s vision for this project.

TNM’s Response to the Ontario Residential Services Panel Report

The New Mentality is an Ontario-wide network of youth doing mental health awareness and anti-stigma work in their communities and leading edge youth-driven policy work. As a provincial body that aims to raise youth voice to improve the mental health system, we were pleased to support the work of Residential Services Review Panel by connecting them with youth from our network.

We applaud the work of the panel of experts, and were especially pleased to see the strong emphasis on the crucial role of youth voice in a high quality and effective residential treatment system. We share the belief that an effective residential service system must have mechanisms to engage youth voice at all levels, including within governance and accountability structures, and look forward to continuing to partner with government, community mental health agencies, youth, and other stakeholders as these recommendations are put into action.

We are excited to continue to work with the Ontario government to build a system that effectively supports children and youth in need of mental health support and treatment.

To see the Panel’s report, click here.

DTL 2016 Community Poem

Cold, beige walls
A doctor’s waiting room
3 meals a day of hospital slop
Surrounded by a strangely empty feeling
Detached from the outside living world

Hope comes and goes
Fading with every delay
Constantly having to relay
Our misunderstood pain

Feeling into our ideal system
We’ve been holding our breath but now we can breathe
And we see the light at the end of the tunnel
Hear, the quiet
No longer do we hear the quiet fear of not knowing what’s next
Now, we hear the quiet comfort of a silent moment with a friend who understands
Surrounded by people that help us see more clearly where we are, or feel okay about not knowing
A patchwork of professionals, friends, elders, and our chosen family
Thinkers and feelers guiding in balance; guiding us to our own balance

The system investing in who is there, for the priceless work they do, tending to the bedrock of our society, tending to the children and youth that are our collective future
Mentorship woven through our circles of care
Moving through our journey
Not commuting to treatment centres
But a steady flow to safety

A bouquet of gentle scents
Lavender, peaches, coconut, a pleasant overwhelm
The scent just after rain and of the open water

Senses unclouded
As our pain is no longer hidden
As more people understand and the constant questioning stops

We don’t let people hit rock bottom all by themselves
We don’t wait for people to hit rock bottom before we help

Celebrating each person’s individual resiliency
Depression reframed we feel things deeply
It’s all reframed when you see the strengths in me

A new normal
Places to find ourselves
Shift in relationships, back to humanity,
A balance between medication and self care
Treating the body and the soul

We don’t want to be perfect we want to love our imperfections
Love our flaws the way we love the flaws of others
Without the darkness there is no light
The beauty that is born of pain

-Community poem, written collectively by Disable the Label participants, 2016 Week One

We’re Hiring! Summer Student Job Posting

The New Mentality is hiring a summer student! of the job posting by
Download the PDF by clicking here : 2016 Summer Intern, or read on for more information.

Job Posting: Summer Intern
Hourly Wage Rate: $11.25/hour
Start Date: June 13, 2016
End Date: August 12, 2014
Number of Hours per Week: 30


Apply for this job if you’re a student between the ages of 15-30 who just finished one year of school and preparing for another year (this is a requirement of the funding for this position). The ideal candidate is interested and/or experienced in youth work, has great graphic design skills, and loves community mobilization and facilitating groups.
Because this role is within Children’s Mental Health Ontario’s New Mentality Program, you are excited to learn more about and contribute to strengthening mental health services for youth across Ontario.
Perhaps you know first-hand how to recover from a mental health problem like depression and that makes you passionate about this cause. Perhaps you are a visible minority or a person living with a disability and it is from this perspective that you have a passion for empowering youth to make a positive difference in their communities. All of this passion and interest is equally combined with an ability to organize and follow step-by-step plans towards your goal.


The Summer Intern will work with the New Mentality team out of our Toronto office to help us convene two of our signature Disable the Label retreats, which bring together over 50 youth, staff and allies for four days in July. These events, held at the YMCA Geneva Park in Orillia, will bring together leaders from across Ontario who are making a difference in the lives of children and youth with mental illness. The Intern will support the designing, planning, delivery and reporting of the events. Specifically:

  • Promote training on website and social media
  • Design on-site training materials, including agenda, program, and resources
  • Provide on-site support to facilitation team, with opportunities to lead workshop sessions
  • Coordinate digital media during event, including live tweeting, facebook posts, and photography
  • Take notes during workshops and compile other workshop session materials
  • Develop written report post-event, compile photos and artwork, develop online resources
  • Other related tasks as required


  • Fluency in Microsoft Office, WordPress, and Adobe Creative Suite
  • Strong writing skills and experience with various types of writing
  • Ability to connect with people quickly – an excellent listener
  • Ability to synthesize information and communicate messages in a creative and engaging manner
  • Social media enthusiast and expert, skilled at making creative use of different channels

To apply, send a resume, cover letter, and a sample of something you have designed to Mary-Anne Leahy, Network Coordinator, The New Mentality:
Application deadline: Noon, June 6, 2016.
Interviews will take place June 8-10.

The New Mentality is committed to equity in our policies, practices, and programs. We strongly encourage and welcome applications from people who identify as Indigenous (Métis, First Nation, Inuit, on/off reserve), a person of colour, LGTBQQ2, living with a disability, or a religious minority.

TNM Releases DTL2016 Pictures and Video!

In July 2016, for the first time ever, The New Mentality hosted two Disable the Label summer leadership retreats for over 100 youth and adult allies across Ontario. Over four days at YMCA Geneva Park in Orillia, youth and adult allies gathered together to learn skills, share about their local work, and build connections with each other. It was an amazing two weeks! Thank you to our amazingly talented photographers Riya Jama and Kimmy Cheung for capturing our experience at DTL2016.

Check out the photos and video below!
Week 1 Photo Album
Week 2 Photo Album
DTL2016 Through Your Eyes Photo Album

What to expect at Disable the Label 2016

Hey Everyone! I hope you are all doing well! I’m Jaydon! As we all know Disable the Label 2016 is coming up very fast and I’m sure most of you are pretty excited, I know I am! As we grow even closer some of you might even grow a bit anxious over this event, which is totally normal. I felt that way too at my very first Disable the Label event back in 2013. So I’m just going to give you all just a little heads up on what to expect at a Disable the Label gathering.

The thing that I love the most about Disable the Label retreat is the people and the environment when you are there! This is my fourth year going and I’ve only met some of these people like five or six times and some of you I’ll meet for the first time in July. But it doesn’t matter because The New Mentality is like a family to me, they are people that I can trust and that I can count on. But most importantly these are people that I can be myself around. The New Mentality and their Disable The Label Retreat have changed my life. And if I was never introduced to this organization I don’t know where I’d be today without the support from this community. Most of the activities and conversations are completely optional. But I highly recommend that you do come and participate, have meaningful conversations, and build new relationships.

What to expect as a whole?

  • Love, Hugs, and Smiles
  • Fun Workshops & Activities
  • Meaningful Conversations
  • Welcoming and Understanding Environment (Safe Space)
  • Amazing People
  • Helpful & Caring Hosting Team
  • Lots of Sharing
  • Beautiful Views such as Nature Trails and even a Beach!

11902499_890787460976439_1844417436565354754_nDay 1

Is focused on basically welcoming each other, we will have time to meet and mingle with old and new friends, checkout the beautiful landscape of Geneva Park, and check into your rooms. New to Disable The Label? No problem! There will be an Opening Circle during the evening where you will receive an outline and find out exactly what you will be doing for the next three days. You will even have some time to meet some new friends after our Opening Circle! Are you a little shy? Again, no worries! There will be plenty of time to socialize with these amazing people over the course of the next three days.

Heads Up

In the past I have noticed that Days 2 & 3 can be intense as well as covering some sensitive topics. So if at any time you’re uncomfortable in a conversation or would like to not participate in an activity that is totally cool! Just let your Adult Ally know so that someone knows you are okay! It’s very important to Self Care when you’re having these type of conversations and dealing with mental health related work. So please don’t feel guilty if you need to take some time for yourself if need be. We totally understand!

11898900_890803820974803_1363558167159819882_nIn the past Day 2

Has been focused on exploring! During the day we will be exploring the emotions within ourselves, learning new ideas to Self-Care, building new relationships, as well as sharing about ourselves! You’ll also get a chance to speak about the work you’ve done in your community! Don’t feel like sharing? Well that’s 100% cool! You also can have the option to sit in and listen to see how other New Mentality Groups are doing. Who knows! Maybe it’ll spark some ideas. To end off the day we’ll have an awesome group camp fire! Which often includes Smores, Singing, and lots of laughs!
Day 3 is focused on learning! Day 3 will cover a variety of interesting areas with mainly teaching people new leadership skills, cool workshops, and other cool things that you can take back with your groups and into your communities when you leave. Some of the activities in the past have included World Cafe, Event Planning, Storytelling, Public Speaking, and other cool activities! To end off our last night together we’ll have a Talent Not Required Show! So it’s pretty much like a Talent Show but better! You can either have talent or not have talent! Everyone is welcome and usually ends with lots of laughs!

897700Day 4

Is the final day we will be together and will be mostly focused on reflection and looking ahead. There will be chance for everyone’s group to showcase and sell their merchandise! The remaining part of the morning will be focused on reflecting what we have learned from our days together and what our next steps are! Also exchanging conversation about how we are going to take this info and apply it to the work we are doing! There will also be time for everyone to say their goodbye’s to everyone before all parting ways. (Note: There will be lots of hugs!)

Disable the Label from what I’ve witnessed and heard has changed the lives of many including my own. It really is beyond an organization. It’s a family and I hope to see more and more of you join this big family. I hope this gives you all a better understanding on what to expect at Disable the Label 2016! I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your day and I hope to see you at DTL in July!

One Love,
– Jaydon, DTL 2016 Apprentice
To learn more about the youth experience at Disable the Label click here for Jaydon’s 2015 reflection and here for April’s 2014 reflection! Also feel free to browse our Disable the Label pages for videos, poems, and previous years programs!

Spring is Springing: A New Awakening

As winter winds down, our minds, bodies and spirits slowly emerge from hibernation. Going are days of extended cold, dryness, and uncertainty. Incoming are the rivers of fresh waters, clarity, and alignment.

The sign of spring always reminds me that no matter how challenging or monotonous winter gets, there is always a wide breadth of life stirring beneath the surface just waiting to spring.

Waiting for spring.

The timing of this convening couldn’t have been more perfect. Gerard Sagassige (our Aboriginal Navigator) led us through a ceremony and teaching as our souls were ready to receive a breath of new life: connecting us to our own spirits and to each other.
We are in relationship to everything and everyone but it’s hard to connect without knowing what connects us.

We often talk about what we do, but we don’t often talk about who we are. Gerard poignantly said that we get disconnected from our spirit stories… we forget them. But now it’s time to know them, to tell them.

This gathering was one of healing and embracing.

The most powerful moment for me was when each person had words spoken over them about who they are. We each then walked around the circle (which symbolized the world), being embraced and honoured by every person we passed. It was a sign of validation, acceptance, a way of saying I see you and you mean something more than just the work that you do. One thing is for sure… an undercurrent of love connects us, UNITES us.

Spring is springing.

The new life that has been rumbling beneath the surface is about to emerge. Seeds that were planted are beginning to grow with love, light, and nourishment. Dust and clutter is being cleared, paving the way for what this next season has in store for The New Mentality. It is such an honour to be building alongside some of the most beautiful people this planet has.
Thank You.

Disable the Label 2016 Registration Open!

For the past nine years The New Mentality has provided an annual summer training retreat for youth leaders and adult allies in the mental health system, in 2010 it was branded as Disable the Label. The event takes place over four days at YMCA Geneva Park in Orillia, Ontario. Youth and adult allies from across the province gather together to learn skills, share about their local work, and build connections with each other. We have grown from hosting 14 youth and adult allies at the first training to 80 in 2015! Each year we get bigger and bigger!

This year we are pleased to announce that due to increasing demand we will be hosting two Disable the Label summer leadership training camps!

Week 1: Tuesday July 12 – Friday July 15
Week 2: Monday July 18 – Thursday July 21

If you have any questions or inquries please contact Mary-Anne Leahy