TNM Partners with the Centre of Innovation for Peer Support

In the New Mentality (TNM), we aim to create radically inclusive spaces that allow youth to be their authentic selves. Naturally, many of our TNM groups become a safe haven for our youth leaders to express themselves and open up about their own mental health challenges. 

We believe that finding meaning in hardship is an important part of healing. With the right supports, the exploration of one’s lived experience with mental illness holds the potential to be an experience of learning and growth and can be transformative on an individual level. If harnessed and valued at an organizational and system level, it can also be transformative for organizations and the broader mental health sector.

In partnership with the Centre of Innovation for Peer Support, 20 youth/alumni in The New Mentality network will receive a full scholarship to participate in a 40-hour peer support training. This partnership will allow us to build a safe environment where youth can share and support each other in a healthy manner while working on their projects. 

About the Centre for Innovation in Peer Support 

Support House’s Centre for Innovation in Peer Support provides wellness based, peer-led self-help and social connections programming to community members; and support to organizations who have peer staff, through training in peer-support program implementation, capacity-building, evaluation, research, knowledge brokerage, and quality improvement. The Centre promotes meaningful engagement of lived experience and family/caregivers; and effective peer support regionally, provincially, nationally, and internationally.

Description of the training:

The Centre for Innovation in Peer Support is pleased to offer a comprehensive, Best Practice 40 hour Peer Support Core Competencies training. This training aligns to key Peer Support documents created by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), Peer Support Canada’s Knowledge Matrix, Health Canada Drug Treatment Funding Program and Addictions Mental Health Ontario’s (AMHO) Best Practice in Peer Support guidelines. Additionally it provides insights into the principles of Trauma informed support and related components of the MHCC National Standards for Psychological Health & Safety.

This training is delivered in 20, two hour interactive virtual training modules.  Over the course of this 40 hours training some of the key concepts that individuals will be introduced to include;

  • The Foundations of Recovery & Wellness
  • Peer Support Fundamentals
  • Advocacy & Self Determination
  • Supportive communication
  • How to share lived/living experience
  • Navigating Boundaries & Dual Relationships
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Building Hope & Resiliency 

This training will take place on Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8:30pm from January 27th to June 16th, with a break during March Break. 

Deadline to apply is January 18th. Please get in touch with your adult ally or or email Fizza Abbas, Network Coordinator at fizza@thenewmentality.ca to apply! 


A Message & Update from Mary-Anne

In June, The New Mentality made a statement about our commitment to embedding anti-racism frameworks into all programming and network practices following the global #BlackLivesMatter movement and protests.  

“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.”

For the full statement, click here.

Today we wanted to share an update on our commitment and share some of the work that has been happening and our vision moving forward. 


The state of the world is inspiring radical change in order to reflect a new way of doing things in all sectors and at every level. As we work to create a mental health system in Ontario that meets the needs of all children and youth, our New Mentality network is calling us to ensure that anti-oppressive and anti-racism frameworks are embedded into all programming and advocacy. In addition to these commitments, we want to continue to recognize, name, and address anti-Black racism and anti-Indigenous racism within our network and the broader sector. 

Many in our network are asking why are we focusing on race to this degree? Our answer is that the work of the mental health system, including TNM, has always focused on race, we have just not been naming it. Therefore, a part of this work is to begin to recognize, name and address the ways in which Whiteness has defined, and continues to define the sector and the limits and exclusions that result. If you are experiencing discomfort or feeling despondent I ask you to sit with the discomfort and be assured that these feelings can signal the beginning of your own learning journey. And remember we are in this together. 

The New Mentality, now more than ever, is feeling the call to expand in order to further infuse the child and youth mental health system with the transformation and magic we’re known for. This expansion is about improved inclusion of people already working in, volunteering for, and being served by the child and youth mental health sector and those who have been excluded. 

Fizza and I have been working with a small team to begin envisioning our next steps for our network as we work to embed anti-oppressive and anti-racism frameworks into all programming and advocacy work. Our intention is to create space where we can examine our own network practices and explore how racial identity impacts mental health and mental health services.   

We are now understanding our work in terms of phases that both widen our circles and deepen our work. However, it is important to note that our work is not linear — many phases will intertwine with each other. Today, I will be sharing our vision for phase one of this work.  

Phase One: Visioning, Exploring, and Leadership Development 

This phase has so far included visioning and team-building conversations with our advisory team. These conversations will continue as the team expands in order to ensure the culture, values, and vision of TNM are maintained and that new members become encultured over time.

Additionally we have been engaging in interviews and conversations with mentors and past leaders. This has been important because as we realized the big changes that we were taking on, we wanted to reconnect and reweave our past into our present and future so that we know we’re on solid ground. 

Disable the Label 2020: Let’s Reconnect & Reconvene 

An Important step in this phase is for us to reconvene our Disable the Label 2020 participants. At DTL 2020, we spent the remaining four weeks together exploring race, mental health, and racism in a Canadian context. We had deep conversations that began to address racism within our own network and Ontario’s mental health system. The young people and adult allies who remained to the end of DTL 2020 went through a transformation – they were ‘forged in the fire’ and now hold leadership and vision as TNM expands our way of being in community with each other. They made it clear that what was happening during this history-making and pivotal time was not just special but vital and they needed some kind of continuation of the work that included them. 

We will be hosting three sessions between November 18th and December 2nd to continue our conversations and help inform our work. Registration has been sent out directly to DTL 2020 participants. We are looking forward to reconnecting and continuing this important work.  

Open Forum

This phase also includes hosting a Virtual Open Forum on Friday, December 11 from 12:45 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. with the support of Anima Leadership. Open Forums are a facilitated conversation that allows space for all voices to be heard, even the unpopular ones or the things we’re afraid to say aloud. It’s a place where we can have difficult conversations, where conflict is raised and addressed in a healthy facilitated environment. 

This will be open to our entire network including youth, adult allies, and alumni. We will use this time to explore our own network practices and experiences. This is an open space, where you can speak from your heart and share what’s on your mind. You might have had an experience within the New Mentality that left you feeling hurt, angry, or discouraged, you might have experienced transformation and want to share that experience, you might be wondering why we are focusing on race right now, you could be fearful that TNM is changing as change scares you or you might be a strong advocate for racial equity and you have something to say. The open forum is ultimately our space to discuss what is needed to continue this work.  

Registration will be sent out through our internal networks. If you are an alumni, please reach out to me directly. 


As we do this work together, my intention is for us to come together as a community and support each other as we learn, grow, heal, and advocate together. I am making a commitment to providing updates as we continue this work. We are working on phase two which will launch in early 2021. 

If you have questions and or feedback please reach out to me at mary-anne@thenewmentality.ca 

With gratitude,
Mary-Anne


Youth Action Committee 2020 Survey

We are so excited to share with you that the New Mentality and Children’s Mental Health Ontario’s provincial Youth Action Committee (YAC) that works to identify major issues youth experiencing mental illness are currently facing in Ontario and generates youth-led policy recommendations to those who are responsible for change, will be focusing on Race in the Mental Health System for their next policy cycle. As a first step, they have released a survey to hear the experiences of and amplify the voices of racialized youth age 13-25 that have accessed Child and Youth Mental Health services and those who have not due to barriers they face. 

We need your help to make this a movement rather than a moment.

As a token of our appreciation, youth will be entered into a raffle for one of five $100 gift cards. All information shared when completing the survey will be kept confidential. Additionally, the survey will be open until Wednesday November 11th.

Our survey is available in both English and French, if neither of these languages work for you and you are interested in participating, please contact us. 

Survey Criteria: 

  • Identify as a racialized individual
  • Between the ages of 13-25
  • Resident of Ontario 

Here’s how you can help:


Hear from our Youth Action Committee member Nneoma Achioso

“Use your voice to be a part of the change that we need to see within our system” 


If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to The New Mentality’s Network Coordinator, Fizza Abbas at fizza@thenewmentality.ca


Youth Action Committee Explores Race in The Child and Youth Mental Health System

Through our joint provincial Youth Action Committee (YAC) with Children’s Mental Health Ontario we support young people in identifying major issues youth experiencing mental illness are currently facing in Ontario. The YAC’s role is to engage with youth across the province and work together to report on its findings and generate youth-led policy recommendations to stakeholders who are responsible for change.

In 2020, the Youth Action Committee met for a new policy cycle. With a diverse committee of youth from all across Ontario, we met for the first time in March. This was a time to get to know one another, to build connections, and to brainstorm and select our project topic that we would work towards for the next 2 years. After many conversations with our committee, it was clear that we needed to work towards Equity in the Child and Youth Mental Health System as our topic, as this has been a long standing issue many youth face in Ontario. 

Shortly after our meeting, the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, and we shifted from meeting in person to hosting meetings virtually. We knew that equity was a broad topic and felt that narrowing it would help to have a more focused policy recommendations. For our Youth Action Committee, it was important to focus on Race in the Mental Health System as youth identified that they are experiencing racial disparities within the mental health system in Ontario and that Black, Indigenous, and racialized youth face barriers to accessing quality care due to a multitude of reasons that the YAC will be exploring over the next year.

The YAC will be releasing a survey this week which will be targeted at the experiences of racialized youth within the child and youth mental health system. Our hope with this project is to amplify the voices of racialized youth in Ontario, and we hope that you will continue to support the work our Youth Action Committee does as we move forward. 

The YAC wanted you to hear directly from them, why they choose this topic:


Racialized youth face unique challenges when dealing with mental health issues and accessing services. As a diverse YAC with many POC members, we thought race within the mental health system was a topic not even given attention to and that needed a spotlight – Madison, 16

Being racialized has always impacted the way I received services. I believe that human services and specifically mental health services shouldn’t be a “one size fits all”. I understand from my lived experience what accommodations may need to be in place to create a more inclusive system that achieves equitable outcomes for all youth across OntarioNourin, 24

Advocating for health equity in the mental health system is very personal to me. I’ve understood from a first-hand perspective how individuals from a low-socioeconomic status (SES) often correlate with poorer overall health. The experiences of racialized and marginalized youth in the Ontario Child and Youth mental healthcare system (CYMH) are not adequately documented. Few studies have examined the cross-section between race and the CYMH delivery for youth in Ontario. If our goal is to create an equitable mental health system, policy-decisions must reflect and incorporate the voices and experiences of racialized and marginalized youth. The YAC has the upmost privilege of amplifying youth voices from equity-seeking groups across Ontario and advocating for an equitable child and youth mental health system – Lewis, 21

I believe this topic is important as racialized youth are oftentimes not provided with proper mental health services for their needs. Many services in the westernized world are geared towards those of Caucasian descent and so it can be much more difficult for racialized youth to find sufficient servicesGregory, 17

It is well documented that there are racial disparities within the mental health system, including the child and youth mental health system. Black, Indigenous and racialized youth face barriers to accessing quality care due to a multitude of reasons including systemic racism and a lack of culturally competent services. As a result of a lack of appropriate access to care, Black, Indigenous and racialized youth often experience poorer mental health outcomes. We recognize that there is a lot of work that needs to be done and we hope that this project can help contribute to creating positive change – Hodan, 23

Personally, as a black woman, who has experienced the mental health system in Ontario I have seen first hand how mental health care disparities can negatively impact the outcome of the patient. Another issue I noticed within the black community is that BIPOC who may be facing mental health issues are less likely to access the system due to fear of receiving differential treatment, community barriers, or lack of cultural competency from providers. After joining the YAC, who had a more diverse team this year, and after expressing my concerns with the system, it became more evident that some of these barriers were also a constant issue with other minority groups when accessing the mental health system and that Ontario’s system is far from equitable. It became important to me that the YAC used its platform to better understand these barriers, and eventually address them through our policy work. Improving access and the quality of care, creating a more diverse mental health workforce, educating providers on cultural awareness are just some of the important changes that need to occur to eliminate the unfair differences within the system. My hope for the YAC is that we are able to deliver recommendations and effective strategies that can be used as a stepping-stone to commence these changes that will provide a more equitable system for our youthNneoma, 21

It is important for the YAC to explore Race within the mental health system because there is a lack of support for these youth. The youth who need the most support are being pushed to the side because their barriers are hard to work around or they are “hard to work with.” There are challenges everyday for racialized youth and accessing mental health services should not be one, we can’t start the change without hearing from the ones who have lived this experience. Our committee is very passionate because we are a diverse group that want to see a change for all different personal reasonsEric, 17

To learn more about our 2020 Youth Action Committee Members, click here! 

Thank you to our 2020 Youth Action Committee for your thoughtful insight, for amplifying the voices of racialized youth, and for being advocates not only in your communities but for the province of Ontario. 

If you have any questions please contact Fizza Abbas, Network Coordinator at fizza@thenewmentality.ca 


Meet the 2020 Youth Action Committee!

Hodan Mohamud, Co-Chair
23, Mississauga

Hodan (she/her) is passionate about mental health advocacy, youth engagement, and health equity. She envisions a mental health system where youth across Ontario have equitable access to mental health services that meet their diverse needs. Hodan hopes to use her position on the committee to help elevate the voices of youth across Ontario.
 
Lewis Han, Co-Chair
21, Ottawa
 
Hi, my name is Lewis.  I’m 21 years old from Ottawa, Ontario. I’m a 2nd year medical student at the University of Ottawa medical school with a passion for advocating for health equity and mental health awareness. My experiences with mental health from a low-income background has shaped my advocacy initiatives. I believe youth need to have a say in policy decisions to create meaningful changes within the Child and Youth mental health system of Ontario. I am privileged to work with the YAC to share my experiences and work towards amplifying the voices of youth across Ontario. 
 
 
Nourin Ali
24, Timmins 
 
My name is Nourin, I have lived in Timmins, ON during the past year. I have a BA in Political Science and Economics from Memorial University of Newfoundland. One of the issues that matters to me most is equity and inclusion. It’s centric to both my career and advocacy. My hope is to weave cultural sensitivity into the provincial mental health delivery standards and to make BIPOC youth voices heard on issues such as social isolation, acculturation, and racism. I also hope to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness that stems from cultural influences. Being part of the YAC gives me the opportunity to be surrounded by like minded youth who are committed to bringing change. It also gives me access to guidance and support from experienced adult allies. 
 
Eric Hendrick
18, St. Thomas 
 
Hi my name is Eric!! My pronouns are He/Him/His. I am 17 years old and I have been on youth engagement committees for the past 4 years! I believe in using my outgoing and fearless personality to be a voice for youth across the board, I realized that some youth don’t have the resources or the contacts to voice their concerns and I want to be able to build my personal tool belt to help others build their own! In September I start my first year of the Child and Youth Care program and I have never been more excited. I can’t wait to work closely with youth to start a change. 

Victoria Corbett
22, Sault Ste. Marie  

Heyo! My name is Vic, I am a 22 year old mental health advocate from Sault Ste Marie. I’ve been apart of The New Mentality since I was 15 when I started a youth engagement group in my hometown, and this is my 3rd year on the YAC! I am most passionate about mental health services in Northern Ontario, LGBTQ+ & transitional-aged youth, although overall I am passionate about all youth accessing the services that suit them, when they need them. Outside of the YAC, I am a Child & Youth Worker who is also in school to become a 9-1-1 Dispatcher. When I’m not at work you can find me snuggling with my cat Finnigan, making some tie-dye, or finding the perfect spot to watch the sunset! While this is my final year on the YAC, I’m sure you’ll see my face changing this world long after our cycle wraps up! 

Gregory Doucet 
17, Vaughan

My name is Gregory and I am 17 years old.  I live in Vaughan, Ontario and I am a strong advocate for children and their well-being.  In particular, I focus on those who are often underrepresented in society, such as those with visible or invisible disabilities, and multicultural individuals.  I am a part of the Youth Action Committee as I want to give a voice to those who currently aren’t able to adovate for change. Those who struggle with health related issues, whether they are solely related to mental health, or are intertwined with their physical health, everyone deserves the best support possible. I firmly believe that regardless of the perceived competency of a youth, they deserve to have their opinion heard and accounted for when making decisions that may impact them.

Nneoma Achioso
21, London 

Hi my name is Nneoma Achioso. I’m 21 years old and currently reside in London, Ontario finishing up my undergrad degree at Western University. It has only been a few years since I discovered that I have a strong passion for mental health. I realized mental health is something I want to not only learn more about, but I also want to contribute to breaking down the walls of stigma surrounding it. In recent years, I have also gained some lived experience with witnessing how the various aspects of the mental health system work, and sometimes not always for the best interest of the patient, specifically those from BIPOC community. As a black woman, I can understand how intersecting identities can disproportionately impact access to services and result in differential treatment by healthcare providers.

Being a part of the Youth Action Committee provides me with the opportunity to be a voice for my fellow BIPOC, while tackling the complex issues within our child and youth mental health system. I hope through our policy work we can commence the start to a more equitable and accessible mental health system for all youth.

Victoria Kaulback 
25, Hamilton

Victoria is a 25-year-old mental health advocate from Hamilton, Ontario. She graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Social Work degree from Lakehead University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Queen’s University, and she plans to pursue a Master of Social Work degree in the near future. Victoria has lived experience navigating the complex mental health system in Ontario. She has experienced several gaps in services and has fallen through the cracks many times. Her experiences have led her to become the passionate activist she is today.

Victoria is currently working as a Youth Trustee, supporting marginalized youth from a range of backgrounds with social assistance and other social services. She sees firsthand how contextual and socioeconomic factors such as poverty, geographical location, and home environment, can affect a young person’s health and mental health.

As Victoria enters her second and final year on the YAC, she is eager to learn more about the unique experiences facing youth across Ontario through youth engagement initiatives. Victoria is passionate about advocating for policy change and creating a more equitable mental health system.

Madison Suh
16, Richmond Hill

Madison is a passionate advocate for mental health advocating with her New Mentality group based in Toronto and on the provincial Youth Action Committee. She has a fierce voice and is a strong advocate for more inclusive mental health services for the 2SLGBTQ+ community.    


We are incredibly lucky to have such bright and enthusiastic leaders from across Ontario. Our 2020 Youth Action Committee is eager and excited to share with you all in the next coming weeks the work we’ve been up to! To learn more about the Youth Action Committee click here

If you have any questions please contact Fizza Abbas, Network Coordinator at fizza@thenewmentality.ca 


The impact of the pandemic and school closures on youth: Youth perspectives

The start of a new school year can normally bring on a mix of different emotions – excitement, joy, and happiness, but also nervousness, discomfort, and stress. The pandemic drastically changed how the school year ended in the spring, and the return to school has been uncertain for the most part over the summer months. As we enter the last few days of summer before school starts, we invited youth to share their thoughts on going back to school during this time.

Safety

Despite safety measures such as physical distancing and masking, students are still worried about the risk of spread between students and teachers, and to their family members. In addition to becoming ill, those who catch COVID-19 may pass it on to others, must self-isolate, and would miss out on school/work. The consequences are wide-ranging.

“Something that is definitely on my mind is the safety of everyone returning, especially older teachers. I hope that teachers and administrators are given the most support possible because they see hundreds of students daily.”

Transition to Online Learning

Although schools have turned to online learning to allow students to continue learning at home, youth are worried about the effectiveness of online learning. Online learning doesn’t work for everyone, and may not be appropriate for all subjects. This can be challenging in different ways for all students, and even more so for those who need to achieve certain grades in order to apply for universities and colleges.

“I’m most worried about the transition to an online format, and how it might impact my ability to learn or access resources in my community.”

Accessibility to Online Supports and Resources

Although students have different preferences for in-person vs. online learning, many youth say it is important for schools and community child and youth centres to have online supports and resources. In order for youth to know about the resources available to them, schools and community child and youth centres need to promote their resources and provide information about the types of supports available, how to access them, and if and how they have been modified.

Accessibility to online supports and resources is equally important to the availability of these resources. For those who do not have access to digital devices or Internet connection at home, youth may have to rely on schools to provide laptops and Wi-Fi at school or in other public areas. If online supports cannot be made available or accessible to all students, youth suggest that community child and youth centres could go to schools to reach more students.

“Providing online support is the best way to help those who might not be able to or be hesitant to reach out in person.”

Socialization with Peers

For a lot of students, extracurricular groups are a way to meet new friends, socialize with peers, and destress from busy times during the school year. While many of them can “meet” online, it feels less intimate than in-person gatherings. For some, they may not feel safe meeting with their groups online at home.

“I get really overwhelmed during busy times of the school year and dread going to class because of a fear of getting even more behind, so most of the time, the only reason I can get out of bed and drag myself to school is because I’m looking forward to a club I have during lunch or after school.”

Tips and Advice from Youth for Youth

As a new school year approaches, we asked youth what advice they would give themselves and their peers to overcome the challenges of a new school year during a pandemic. During this stressful and uncertain time, it is important to remember to check in and take care of yourself, and reach out to friends and other support networks if you need.

“Stay safe and take care of yourself.”

There are many different and polarizing opinions about COVID-19 and this can feel overwhelming. It is important to take a pause and think about what is best for you but also safe for you and those around you. If staying active helps you destress, go outside for a walk while practicing safety measures like physical distancing and masking.

“It’s okay to take a break!”

With more time at home, it can feel like we need to be doing as much as possible, trying as many new things as possible. But you don’t always have to be productive – it is just as important to rest and take a break.

“Share how you feel with other people because not talking about it can sometimes make it worse.”

Staying connected with friends or your other support networks can make it easier to deal with the challenges and uncertainties during this time. While it may feel limiting or intimidating to meet in person, there are many ways to stay connected using group call platforms and online games. To switch it up, you can create “care packages” with notes, games, small gifts, or other things that your friend likes, and do a gift exchange while practicing physical distancing.

Thank you to our youth for sharing their thoughts, tips, and advice on returning back to school. We wish you all a safe and healthy school year ahead! 

If you have any questions please contact Fizza Abbas, Network Coordinator at fizza@thenewmentality.ca 


Let’s Talk: Men’s Mental Health

Men’s mental health, whoosh okay let’s get real for a minute here. Mental health as a whole has been on a huge journey to be taken seriously, and to break through the stigma. Although we have come a long way we still have a long way to go. In regards to men’s mental health it’s even more of a journey. This group has been swept under the rug. However, I do know that the world has been run and dominated by the ideations of men, which I also agree needs to have a huge change. Mental health is the one place where they lack substance and space, but probably where they need it most.

Men and boys have grown up being instilled with the notions that men shouldn’t/don’t show their emotions. That they need to be cold and tough like stone. That crying would make them less of a man. Not to mention the common taboo of mental health throughout different cultures. These scripts are so toxic, and dangerous. These bottled up, unprocessed emotions then form into mental health issues, mental illness, and constant struggles with processing emotion throughout their lives. These scripts then get passed down to new generations. Because after hearing all of that what man wants to talk about their feelings, or the trauma that they have experienced in their life? Talking about these topics needs to be normalized with men, because we have lost so many young men to substance abuse, self harm, and to suicide. It needs to stop. Change needs to happen. They are hurting and we have to do something.

Personally speaking, it took me a long time to talk about my own mental health issues. Even while I was an advocate, I have invalidated my issues time and time again. I felt I needed to be that rock for other people, but I never truly realized that I had so much that I needed to be honest about. When I did start sharing my story to others it was almost like I wasn’t present in what I was talking about. Because although I shared my struggles I never actually worked through them. I still had that sense that I was okay, and that these things happen so I can get over it. But that isn’t true. It’s exhausting to have to bottle up your feelings. It’s also exhausting and scary to be open and vulnerable when seeking support, but it’s so worth it. 

But our resources still aren’t good enough yet. It’s nearly impossible to find mental health support specific to male needs, especially in small towns. The earlier we start these conversations the better. But that’s not enough, we need to offer space that is equipped to the needs of male individuals and that offers a healthy environment for men to interact with one another that encourages growth and support. Our men need to be lifted up, and given a shoulder to cry on when they need it. Things need to be flipped upside down and rearranged for sure. 

As for right now, I want to celebrate the amazing, resilient, strong, brave, honest male-identifying agents of change out there. You are incredible, you are loved and you are so important in this fight. Thank you so much for being a part of this journey and allowing men to have a voice and to feel emotions freely. Stay wild kings.

Thank you to Zibby our Youth Media Ambassador for sharing his thoughts on the importance of men’s mental health!

If you are interested in becoming a Youth Media Ambassador for the New Mentality, please email fizza@thenewmentality.ca 


Becoming a New Mentality Alumni

What happens next? To all the work you’ve put in, to the peers you’ve made, to the support you had. I’ve thought about what happens to all of it when the road I’ve been walking on finally comes to an end. Crossing that bridge into becoming an alumni within your new mentality groups and seeing everything else left behind on the other side. Reaching back for one more meeting, one more DTL, one more project. 

It almost seems we forget to have a conversation about what that next step is going to look like. Or we don’t think it’s going to come as quickly as it does. Experiencing two transitions at once; becoming an New Mentality alumni, all while entering a new life path. Whether that be entering post secondary, working full time, or moving away for any handful of reasons. Whatever the case may be, and I know I can’t speak for everyone but there’s this emptiness. There’s this need. Because if we look at good ol’Maslow, we need a sense of love, belonging and my group gave me that. I had a purpose, I was making a difference. I had built a family of sorts for myself. 

I’m going to talk more about what my experience with this looked like. What I was feeling and things I did to ease that transition. Being a part of the amazing New Horizons New Mentality group at Huron Perth Centre helped me so much during my time as a high school student. I learned so much about how to help others, and about myself along the way. Having to transition out and leave was something I never really thought I would have to do. Because how do you leave something so personal and so entwined with your own being? 

During my transition into post secondary I did in fact look into other mental health groups within the college. To my surprise there was something, a group called Let’s Face It. It was everything I was looking for but I felt guilty. I already had a group, and these amazing friends. How would I be able to join something else? I’m going to tell you it wasn’t easy and it’s not going to be easy. But, it was one of the best choices I’ve made. Granted I didn’t join right away it took me about a month to really sort through these feelings, where at first I wasn’t going to join at all. Yes, it felt like I was making this whole big betrayal, but I have come to realize that all these advocacy groups are ultimately on the same side. We’re all here as agents of change. Looking to make a difference, to bridge the gaps within the many systems we come in contact with.

When leaving our New Mentality groups we have to hold faith in our successors. Some advice I want to give future alumnus and those who are now, taking that step, although we have to pass on our torches we still continue to take our fire with us. Use it, get involved in new groups even. You still have so much light to give. 

To the adult allies, have those conversations. It’s going to be hard for both of you, but it’s important to identify the needs of the youth who are transitioning. What do they need? How can they stay connected? Your youth are leaving a big part of themselves. Something they used to socialize themselves, a support system, an outlet. Help them see that they still have so much purpose. Connect with those who have been alumni for a couple years even, and acknowledge their feelings. Identify what could have helped that process and what could be done differently now. Growing is scary and uncomfortable, but we are all resilient past, present and future.

 

Thank you to Zibby our Youth Media Ambassador for sharing his journey of becoming a New Mentality alumni!

If you are interested in becoming a Youth Media Ambassador for the New Mentality, please email fizza@thenewmentality.ca 


Meet Our Media Ambassador Zibby!

Hey y’all! You may have seen me on The New Mentality’s website under their blog section. Some of you may recognize me and some of you might have been like who is this??? Well … I’m Zibby! I’m going to tell y’all a little bit about me and what I’m doing here. For starters, some things about me are that I like to read, I like to cook, I love poetry and music, I love crazy adventures, and busting a gut laughing. I definitely laugh at myself too much, and just think I am the funniest person. I am definitely going to be that person that grows old and has a thousand cats. I aspire to be like Beyoncé and just be completely incredible no matter what. But, on top of all of this I love being an advocate for mental health.

My journey started as a youth advocate for New Horizons, which is the Huron Perth Centre’s New Mentality group. Let me tell you, this all happened on accident but I feel like it was meant to be. So a few of my friends decided to go to student services in our high school for a completely different reason. But they happened to be in the right place at the right time, they were recruited into this group and then later wrangled the rest of the friend group in as well. Granted at the beginning I didn’t have a full understanding of what mental health was and I didn’t necessarily take everything seriously. And with that is how I was introduced to The New Mentality and to the incredible experience of Disable the Label. Which really made me get my act together. From grade 10 to graduation the others and I took part in a lot of advocating for mental health, through presentations on stress, doing different activities in our high school, and learning more from other groups along the way. We also took part in our own fundraiser and then did our own mini Disable the Label in our community. 

After graduation as you may have read in my first blog I wasn’t sure what to do. I knew that I wanted to continue advocating because it was something that I loved and also was at war with the fact that I had my own little family in this group, and felt that if I did join another group that I would be kind of betraying my original group. However, that definitely wasn’t the case because we are all in this together (que High School Musical pun) as advocates and we all have the same goal. So I joined Let’s Face It at Lambton College.

I was able to do incredible things by helping to provide a safe space for students, teaching them about stress and coping skills, and engaging them in activities throughout the school year. I also had the privilege to go into high schools, to share my story and to help teach students about mental health and finding support. It was important for me to show that youth voice matters too, that their experiences and struggles are valid, and to show they deserve to receive help. 

A little more about me is I am a third year Child and Youth Care student at Lambton College, and I already have a culinary degree. It is my passion and goal to bring change into the mental health field and to do more with the education I have when I graduate, and to make sure everyone has the ability to access the support they need in order to live the best life they can, and to be their most authentic selves.

As an alumni of The New Mentality I wanted to stay connected and to participate in as many Disable the Label conferences as I could. So I was very fortunate to be able to participate in Disable the Label 2020. As well as, be given the opportunity to become one of the social media ambassadors for The New Mentality. Now I haven’t done much blogging in my life before this but already it is something I enjoy very much. I love offering my perspective and talking about different things in life. So that’s a bit about me! Stay tuned for some more blogs in the near future! Stay wild y’all.

 

Thank you to Zibby our Youth Media Ambassador for sharing with us a little bit about himself! 

If you are interested in becoming a Youth Media Ambassador for the New Mentality, please email fizza@thenewmentality.ca 


Youth Create Resources on The Transitions In and Out of High School

We all can remember a moment or a time when we were transitioning from middle school to high school, or transitioning out of high school and had no idea what to expect. What comes next? How do I navigate this new space? These questions racing through our minds.

As students you may be getting ready to go back to school this fall, and you might have the same questions as I once did. Well, our fantastic New Mentality youth at Lumenus Community Services have you covered! Our youth have created two resources to help students with the transition to high school, and the transition out of high school. 

After working two years on this project, youth have created these resources to share with their peers what they wish they knew before going through these challenging transitions themselves. These resources are filled with advice, tips, and interviews from youth who have recently gone through these transitions themselves! 

A huge congratulations to the young folks who worked very hard on this project. We are so incredibly proud to see resources created by youth for youth! 

Click here to read – The Transition to High School

Click here to read – The Transition out of High School 

Follow @lumenuscs to see what our youth will be up to next! 

Fizza Abbas, Network Coordinator