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

Disable the Label 2020 Alumni Experience!

Disable The Label (DTL), that title brings such fond memories, and Geneva park being home away from home. Filled with laughter, fun, connections, conversations, growth, learning, and of course lots of chocolate milk. DTL has held many individuals from many walks of life. 

However this year we weren’t able to do that. We weren’t able to decorate our name tags, sit in our big community circle, or sit by the beautiful lake to soothe our souls. Gathering in the dinning hall to connect even further, and getting wild while lining up for chocolate milk. (I know I mentioned chocy milk before but it really is that big of a deal). 

There was an unexpected turn of events this year due to COVID-19, and one of my first thoughts was “what is DTL going to look like this year?”. Not knowing what to expect or even if it would happen at all, I just knew this year was going to be different. And although with these unforeseen circumstances DTL was a go! Even if that meant it was going to be through our computer screens.

In a sense, I am sorry for those whose this is their first DTL, because they didn’t get to experience all of its wonders in its entirety. But DTL goes way deeper than that. It is something that isn’t physical, it’s magic and energy of all of our amazing agents of change. 

As I know, I can’t speak for everyone but this DTL still felt like any other. We shared deep, meaningful conversations. We explored different areas of who we are. There was still so much vulnerability, bravery and with some tears being shed along the way. The DTL homies unified like we always do to address important matters and injustices within our society, and did important work in regards to anti-black racism. We spoke our truths with words or art, and allowed ourselves to grow. We still got to experience the TALENT of this group. DTL is its own community, I was still able to feel that and to see that. Along with being provided the space to build connections that are so precious and forever. All of this being thanks to the hard work of the hosting team, but also to the participants. 

So, of course I will always say that an original DTL at Geneva park (with lots of chocolate milk) hands down takes the cake. But I’d be blind to not acknowledge that this year still held that same atmosphere even amongst zoom calls. The new mentality/DTL is family, and of course my home away from home.

 

Thank you to Zibby our Youth Media Ambassador for sharing his Disable the Label 2020 experience as an alumni of our Network!

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


New Mentality youth talk about what Pride means to them!

June is Pride Month! This month is a time dedicated to celebrating and supporting the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Whether you identify as LGBTQ or are an ally, everyone can join in the celebration of love. We spoke to two of our New Mentality youth, Rachel and Diya about what Pride means to them! 

Why is Pride Month important to you?

Rachel:

I remember my first Pride. I was still in the early stages of coming out to myself, let along to other people when I had the opportunity to walk in the Parade with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). I was so nervous about going to Pride, and what people would think of me, but after a while, I convinced myself to go. When I got there, we had to wait for hours to walk, and it was a sweltering hot day. Eventually, we were allowed to start, and it was the most incredible feeling. I saw thousands of people cheering, waving flags that I identified with, and celebrating themselves and each other. By the time the Parade ended, I was filled with hope, I felt like I wasn’t alone. After I got home, I learned that the Parade had been held up by a Black Lives Matter protest. As I read and learnt about the reasons they were protesting at the Pride Parade, the more I respected and stood by them. 

            By this point, you might be wondering why I’m answering the question with this story. But it’s because it highlights what Pride month means to me. Pride month is a time where I can finally embrace the parts of myself that I was told were wrong, and it creates a space where I can be my most genuine self without having to worry about what other people think. Really, it’s a time where we can be visible and celebrate what we’ve all been through to get here today and collectively express and process all the emotions that come with that. Pride month creates a space to learn about and remember the history of the 2SLGBTQ+ community and, like Black Lives Matter, sought to do, work towards a brighter and safer future for everyone. 

Diya:

  Every day of the year, I experience my identity and I have to live with all the different parts of me. I know myself, and I can tell myself I’m valid over and over again, but the people around me will tiptoe around parts of my identity they don’t accept. Pride Month, however, has been the gateway into openly sharing my Pride, and expressing my identity outwardly, without hiding certain pieces to avoid judgment. Pride Month is the month I always feel the most inspired, heard, valid, and beautiful because it is the month where I see other people expressing their sexuality and themselves so vibrantly. It makes me feel as if I’m not alone, and makes me hopeful for the future I can have where I may be as amazing as all my fellow community members. All these people hold a space to freely talk about their struggles as a 2SLGBTQ+ member, and Pride Month connects me to people who are undergoing the same hardships and confusion I am with my own identity. It lets me be unapologetically me, and feel supported through that process. As a bonus, Pride Month gives me an opportunity to look bomb as hell without judgment or a second thought, and that’s an opportunity I will never refuse.

What activities have you participated in this month for Pride, and how has that supported your overall mental well being?

Rachel: 

Before Covid-19 hit here, I lived in a space where I had an incredible and supportive 2SLGBTQ+ community around me. But with the pandemic, I had to move away to stay with family, and that sense community is a lot harder to find here. It doesn’t mean I’ve stopped looking though, and with Pride Month, I’ve been trying to find ways to connect with people virtually. Lately, I’ve been having zoom calls to hang out with other 2SLGBTQ+ youth and have been watching/ reading more 2SLGBTQ+ content online (if you haven’t seen it yet She-Ra is AMAZING!). It definitely doesn’t replace what I used to have in person, but it’s helped me feel less isolated and has given me a small way to celebrate Pride month. 

            This month I’ve also been engaging in more of the politics of Pride. The history of the 2SLGBTQ+ community is one filled with both struggle and radical compassion. So for me, part of the way I’m participating in Pride this year is learning more about our history and about the BIPOC 2SLGBTQ+ people who have been the leaders of this movement and paved the way for the rights I have today. 

Diya:

The Pride Parade is always the event I look the most forward to since it is the most inspiring and freeing to participate in, however, this year since I can’t celebrate at the Pride Parade, I created a way for me to still fully reap the wellness benefits of Pride. I’ve decided to do a small project every week related to Pride to express my identity and acknowledge myself as a part of my wellness, and these small projects range greatly. One of the small things I decided to do was to come out to a member of my family, while a more lighthearted one was to decorate my room in Pride related items. As well, I have been finding more 2SLGBTQ+ role models online and hearing their experience over a variety of platforms. Since I am not able to leave my house during June because of COVID-19, I have been partaking in online ventures much more, and have found a lot of ways to still experience Pride Month. I have been doing a lot of online research for myself about the history in Canada and India (where I immigrated from) of 2SLGBTQ+ advocates and educating myself on how and to what extent the community has been accepted or denied rights in the past.  

I’ve also stayed connected to my friends in the community and had some really great conversations that led me to a very liberating decision. I always kept long hair because people around me told me it made me more “feminine” and was even told with short hair when I was 6 years old that I wouldn’t be allowed in the washroom because I looked like a boy. This technically isn’t tied to my sexuality, but it is tied to my expression of it, and after 17 years of being afraid of not pleasing others and being “too masculine,” finally chopped off my hair and am now strutting around with a very very short bob! This small step might not mean a lot to anyone else, but I feel more myself than I have in a long time, and this was part of my growth this Pride Month 🙂

What mental health supports have helped you as a member of the 2SLGBTQ+ community?

Rachel: 

To be honest, there haven’t been many formal supports that have helped support me in my journey so far. I grew up in rather conservative religious school systems, where it wasn’t safe for youth to be out. It was because of these schools that I didn’t realize I might be queer until a few years ago when I was in my late teens/ early twenties. When I went looking for support groups, I realize that most of the resources for our community were targeted towards youth under 18, or adults over 40, not transition-age youth like myself. So I never really had 2SLGBTQ+ friendly mental health supports like GSA’s or peer support groups as I was learning about myself. 

            Instead, I turned to a lot of informal spaces for support. I spent more hours than I can count online reading articles, forums, and watching videos. Finding these online spaces helped me process things and get to know the community and myself in a more distant way. Once I started to get more comfortable with the fact that I was queer, I began to turn to my friends for support and attended the odd event that my University’s Pride group put on. 

Since then, I’ve found support in other’s visibility. When I started a work placement at the end of my degree, I realized that one of the staff members used non-binary pronouns. As soon as I saw this, and heard my supervisor ask for my pronouns, I knew that it was a safe place to use they/them and she/her pronouns. Those small acts of someone’s visibility and that simple question made me feel safe and supported enough to bring my genuine self into my work. Words can’t describe how incredible that felt. 

Diya: 

In my Scarborough school, being anything other than a cisgender, straight person automatically labels you as a target for slander, awful remarks, or even just general judgement. Most people, fortunately, aren’t openly homophobic but in my class in particular, there have been books stolen from the library and ripped up just because it displayed two boys kissing on the cover. This sort of demeanour as well as the unspoken dislike for the community has led me to not access any resources from my school, and most of the ways I’ve been supported have been from the interwebs. Watching informative videos online has been the only way for me to get mental health support related to the 2SLBGTQ+ community. However, there has been one place that has actually considerably supported me throughout the years, and that is the annual Disable the Label Camp by The New Mentality! That is the first place where I experienced queer representation, and also the first space where conversations around struggles and mental health support for our community were held in front of me.

Is there anything else you’d like to share? 

Rachel:

For me, Covid-19 has highlighted how beautiful, resilient and compassionate the 2SLGBTQ+ community is. Over the past few months, I’ve seen my community set up phone calls to keep people of all ages connected, create card-writing campaigns to spread cheer, organize anonymous care-package drop-offs, and open up spaces to stay connected online. I’m amazed at how the community has stepped up to support one another in innovative and meaningful ways. It’s acts like this that make me so proud to be part of the community and hopeful for our future. 

            I want to finish by saying thank you to those who paved the way for us today, and to those whose visibility in the media, our communities, and our lives have created hope, gave us a place to see our identities reflected, and space to explore who we are. And to those of you who aren’t out or whose identities don’t fit neatly into any label, know that your identities are valid and that your very existence is a beautiful and radical thing. Happy Pride everyone <3 

Diya: 

From personal experience, I know it’s really hard to admit your own identity to yourself sometimes, and as someone who only recently came out (if a year ago counts as recently), I know that it feels like stepping into a world you can’t return from. For someone so far into convincing myself I was straight, even the act of saying ‘I like girls’ to myself was terrifying, because once I said it, I couldn’t keep denying the reality anymore. What I’ve learned is most important, is to do what makes you happy, and if no one accepts you, accept yourself, reach out, and find people who won’t judge you. Don’t be ashamed if you don’t know, or feel confused, because just sitting in your confusion and naming it is something you should be immensely proud of. Your journey is your own to take, and even though I am out to my immediate family and friends, it doesn’t mean my journey is over or that I don’t have room to grow or discover my identity more, so cherish your identity, be proud of yourself, and don’t let anyone take that away from you. Happy Pride! 🙂

Thank you to Rachel and Diya for always creating spaces for everyone to feel celebrated. We at the New Mentality want our 2SLGBTQ+ community to know that YOU are seen, heard and loved! 


A Message to Our Community

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

 

S T I L L | Written and performed by Lighthaüs & Devynne

Please enjoy a 20 minute guided meditation “STILL” |  Written and performed by Lighthaüs & Devynne. Originally performed during Week 3 of Disable the Label 2020  

 

Lighthaüs:

still my soul,
be still my soul
still my soul
still in safety

still my soul,
be still my soul
still my soul,
cocooned within
the womb of safety

pass, pass
pass through the night
into the rising light

be still my soul
be still like a seed in the earth
still my soul
before you expand you must be reborn, x2

boundaries, know your boundaries
boundaries, feel your boundaries
boundaries, respect your boundaries
with memories, that serve your becoming
memories, that serve your being
memories, treasure the memories that bring you joy
that help you remember who you are

and be still, 
be still my soul

Devynne:

Welcome to the darkness
Step inside
Don’t be afraid
Fullbrace (embrace) every corner of you
Without hesitation
Fullbrace (embrace) your voice
It’s time my child
Be still
Listen and feel
Be still
And heal

What does your heart say?
Let it lead the way
Entertain that which serves your highest good
For the highest good of all
You were brought here with great purpose
Now, it’s up to you to live it
You have the power to bring your dreams to life
Call in all that you desire

Gwan (go on) child
Forward into the unknown
Tune in to the wisdom of your heart
The vibration of your soul and the voice within
They will guide you to freedom my child
But you will have to leave some things behind
Put aside what no longer serves you
Anything toxic to your sprit must be discarded

I know your trod hasn’t been easy
But you are being called to live a new way
Some will not overstand
But you cannot be concerned with that
You have intergenerational curses to burn
And valuable lessons to learn

Forward my child
Forward into the unknown
All that you need is within
The secrets live in your skin
Ask for help
And pour into yourself

Take back your power my child
You are worthy my child
You are worthy my child
You are worthy.

 


Wind Song (Say the Word)

Written and performed by: lighthaüs & Devynne for Disable the Label 2020 

Devynne 

Chant (x2)
Say the word
Say the word
Just say the word

Beloved
Angel
Sweet child of mine
Crafted to perfection
Apple of my eye

Open your heart
Release the burdens of the past (x2)
Release the shame, the guilt, the trauma
There is nothing
Absolutely nothing that you could ever do
That could make me stop unconditionally loving you
I will sew your heart back together with chords of light
I promise you
Everything’s gonna be alright
Can you feel me as part of you?

You were never forgotten beloved
But I respect you
I respect your need to process your feelings
I respect your need to process all that you’ve been through
Give yourself permission to LET IT GO
Allow the winds of change to transform you
Allow yourself to grow
Give yourself permission to heal
You’ve beaten yourself up long enough

It is time to realize the fullness of your potential
To grab the reins of your life
YOU are in charge
weave all of your traumas, your learnings, your triumphs, your gifts and your mistakes
into a beautiful silk
you are enough beloved
you always were

Sit up. Stand tall.
Accept all you’ve ever been
discard what no long serves you
and when you need me
All you need to do
is say the word beloved
say the word beloved
just say the word

Chant
Say the word
Say the word
Just say the word

lighthaüs

Like fresh dew upon your mourning,
I will dawn on you
And blanket you in my love,
‘Til every tear has been lovingly cleared and your sight is one:
So you can see yourself,
As I see you.

Then darling,
You will lay with me, and be still.
That your heart may open,
And your mind may heal.

Together, we will strip you bare
Of all the unneeded layers you hide behind,
So the sun may kiss your skin
And warm your depths.

Ahhh my child,
There is so much I desire for you,
Ahhh my child,
You are my greatest delight,
Ahhh my child,
You are the song my heart sings,
Ahhh my beloved,
I Am always here,
Just say the word

To Learn more about Disable the Label 2020 click here! 


Week One Opening Art Performance

Defences (My Reflection)
Written and performed by: Devonna “Devynne” Munroe

Why
The sun it falls
My voice comes out so weak
When I try to speak
Apprehension… 

Did I mention
I’m always hiding
Look over
my shoulder
‘cause I don’t want you to see
my mistakes 

Holding on to past shame
Protect my pride
De-friend myself
Against
your wrath
I’d rather …(large exhale) 

And still
I do my
best
My spirit gets
tired
And right
now
I just need to
rest
I need some
rest 

Release 
Written and performed by: lighthaüs

still.
calm.
peace.


I need still, calm, peace
let apprehension melt away


still.
calm.
peace.


these words that are spoken
are for seed.
on the day when
the voice of your mind roars so loud
it deafens your heart.
seek it, beyond the chaos,
as you dive deeply within.


what will you find at your core?


A seed taken root,
roots growing deep.
from the base of your spine,
down into the earth.


the deeper they grow,
the more grounded
and secure you feel
safety,
snuggled in the womb of Mother


the warm golden light
that gifts life to all creation, rises up
up through your roots
bringing life to your germinating seed


a seed must crack open in order to sprout, x2
the shell serves a purpose,
in encasing and protecting the seed,
until that purpose has been served
and is no longer needed.
then the shell must break, x2
the walls must break
the mask must break…


Release,
release everything holding you,
holding you back
from walking truly in all your being.
release, release
let your seed sprout,
let your seed sprout
reaching higher towards the light


a leaf in your core
a leaf at your womb
a leaf for your strength
a leaf for your heart
a leaf for your voice
a leaf at your eye
a flower blooms upon your crown, x3

open, open, open
and from your opening find peace,
and from your piece find a smile
a smile from deep within,
that erupts,
that erupts upwards into your face
a smile that appears on your lips
a smile that all is well
and from that smile let joy enter your entire being
from that joy in your heart
you might want to bounce shoulders
you might want to flow your arms back
you might want to shake your feet a little bit
you might want to wiggle your toes
you might want to whine your waist a little bit
you might want to just get up off your seat… 
get up off your seat and dance!

 


MEET THE 2020 DISABLE THE LABEL HOSTING TEAM

Erin (she/her) has been working with New Mentality for 3 years, beginning as a general member and has been able to gain more opportunities to advocate for mental health awareness in a leadership role from there. She is a member of the Provincial Youth Advisory Committee which plans and advises on the construction of Youth Hubs around the province. This is her third DTL but her first as a member of the Hosting Team and she is very excited (and nervous) ! She is 17 years old and is about to start her senior year of high school. She is especially passionate about the accessibility of mental health services for intersectional and racialized youth, as well as the stigmatization of mental health in ethnic communities. She likes painting, going to museums, playing guitar, and song writing so if you like those too go talk to her about them! 

Diya Mohan (she/her) is a leader, and youth focused on mental health advocacy within her Scarborough community, and throughout Ontario.  She is starting her Grade 12 this upcoming September, and has been involved with TNM since her freshman year, amassing way too many volunteer hours, and developing a passion for youth outreach and reducing community and cultural stigma against mental health. After years of being a general member, she has been given the opportunity to be one of the leaders in her new mentality group, as well as an active member of the Provincial Youth Advisory Council. She is invested in marginalized communities and their relationship within the mental health system, specifically the LGBTQ+ community, and racialized communities. This is her third year at DTL, and after being a bandana crew leader last year, she is simultaneously terrified and really thankful for the chance to be a part of the Hosting team this year. At the risk of sounding vain, she is really nice and pretty approachable, so feel free to talk to her if you ever get the chance! When she isn’t sleeping, eating, or working, she loves poetry, music production, song writing, and David Dobrik.

Austin is excited to be apart of the 2020 DTL hosting team. Austin has been a member of the hosting over the last few years and is very grateful for the DTL experience every year. He is Child and Youth Worker in Ottawa who is currently the live-in foster mentor of a semi-independent transition home. Austin currently lives with two youth who are preparing to transition to independent living at the age of 18. Austin also has frontline CYC experience in a residential and group care. Having some extra time on his hands Austin decided to go back to school for fun. He wanted to learn some practical life skills and decided to take a one year plumbing course. In his free time Austin enjoys running Spartan Races, playing softball, spending time with his niece and nephews, and his dog Jack.

Hi folks! My name is Rachel, and I’m excited to be part of DTL for the first time. I can’t wait to meet you all! I’m a recent graduate from the Community Development and Environmental Studies program at Acadia, and I’ve spent my time there focusing on social justice, facilitation, and accessibility. I’ve been heavily involved in mental health work for a while now, and I have done a bit of everything, including peer support, programming, research, and advocacy. Since graduating, I’ve had enjoyed taking part-time courses, working odd jobs, and learning to take care of myself. I have a billion different hobbies, but you’ll most likely find me reading, hiking, biking, or doing yoga, photography, activism. Oh, and also, I’m a massive nerd/ geek. Thanks for reading, I’ll see you all there!

Dana has been involved in youth mental health advocacy for the past 5 years where she has worked with various groups in Toronto, including Skylark and The New Mentality. Dana is currently attending Western University and Brescia University College to study psychology in hopes of finding a career in the mental health field. In her current community at school, Dana is a peer supporter as she is passionate about helping others. When she is not taking a nap, Dana enjoys reading, rock climbing, crafts, running, re-watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine for the millionth time, playing tennis, and looking at photos of her dog, the love of her life. Please ask Dana all about her dog as she loves talking about him and will show you cute photos! This will be Dana‘s 4th DTL and her second time on the Hosting Team. Dana has few photos of herself and would like everyone to ignore the weird bump in her hair. 
 

While Shannon had a difficult time coming to terms with DTL not happening at Geneva Park this year, she is incredibly excited and grateful to be joining everyone virtually! She has been active with TNM in different capacities since 2010. Shannon is a Social Worker in private practice and works out of her home in Hamilton. Her and her therapy dog, Charlie, enjoy spending the days chatting with clients on their healing journey’s and going for strolls on the off hours. 

Helllllllloooooo TNM community! My name is Liv and I have the pleasure and honour of being a mentor for the hosting team at this year’s Disable the Label. You may have heard… DTL is looking a little different this year. When we first found out, I thought “oh great, thanks for this pandemic”. Although it might look different, we are hoping to give everyone the same ‘indescribable’ experience as past years. You may be asking yourself, why is this person so stoked on youth engagement? Well, I’m a provincial YAC alum and have been involved with TNM initiatives for a decade now, drawing from elements of my experiences with mental health, ADHD, and substance abuse to focus my advocacy, organizing, and clinical work. I am enthusiastic, creative, and fun (I’ve been told) and truly believe in TNM’s work in recognizing and supporting the power of youth.

Likes: dogs, caffeine, lakes & oceans, friends, reading
Dislikes: writing in 3rd person, seafood, and hypocrisy     

Hey everyone, Fizza here! excited to be a part of DTL in a different capacity this year. I’ve been apart of this incredible network as a youth facilitator for two years prior to transitioning into the Network Coordinator role. I’m passionate about inclusion, equity and community mobilization in the Addictions and Mental Health sector. I once travelled with 2 days notice on a 30-hour journey to Malaysia, flew an airplane when I was 21, and went horseback riding in the mountains where they filmed Jurassic Park in the Dominican Republic!

I like many of you, was really looking forward to meeting you all in person this year. Disable the Label has always held a special place in my heart. However, I know we will still create the same DTL feel on a digital platform. See you all on zoom!  

Hi! I’m Mary-Anne, the Program Manager of The New Mentality! I have been involved in The New Mentality since 2011, starting as a group member then co-chair of the provincial Youth Action Committee. Joining the New Mentality was a life-changing experience for me. I always thought my mental illness would create barriers in my life but The New Mentality allowed me the space to learn, grow, and find out what I am capable of. And I’ve made lifelong friends who truly accept me for who I am. In my free time, I love exploring Toronto where I work and live and travelling to new places.