Catch da Flava - Children's Mental Health Ontario and the Centre of Excellence

In 2007 Children’s Mental Health Ontario and the Centre of Excellence partnered together because there was a need for youth voice in the mental health system. Through The New Mentality’s 10 years of existence, it has effectively grown from a small pilot project to an established thought leader practicing in youth engagement in mental health that has had a province-wide impact. Since the beginning, The New Mentality has aimed to give opportunities to youth to make a difference in ways that were meaningful to them. In order to keep youth mental health on the political agenda and to decrease public stigma, youth need to speak publicly about the issues they are facing. Youth also need to have input on how to make counseling and other mental health treatments more accessible, youth-friendly and, ultimately, more effective.

For the March 27th episode of Catch da Flava Youth Radio, host Travis had the pleasure of speaking to Program Manager Caralyn Quan and Network Coordinator Mary-Anne Leahy. Caralyn uses her current role as Program Manager with The New Mentality to work with youth and adult allies across the province to raise youth voice and improve the mental health system. She's really passionate about youth and their health. Her motivation are her personal experiences with important people in her life who have suffered from mental health. Travis asked her what a typical day looked like at The New Mentality office and she said "there isn't one, everyday is full of unpredictable laughter". "The one hard thing for them to do at the end of the day is say goodbye, so they stretch them out." Mary-Anne has been involved in The New Mentality since 2011, starting as a group member to the provincial Youth Action Committee (YAC). Her current role is Network Coordinator where she supports local New Mentality groups as well as the practice of youth engagement on a provincial scale. Mary-Anne is upbeat, caring and deeply in tuned with what’s going on around her, as she spoke about The New Mentality and what has happened so far. The youth of today are lucky to have these ladies and the rest of the team in their lives. For youth looking to have their voice heard or join the organization, they can visit their website at

The New Mentality will be hosting their annual Summer Leadership Retreat, Disable The Label from Tuesday, July 11 to Friday, July 14, 2018. Disable the Label 2018 will take youth and adult allies on a journey into their identity and how that influences their role in the mental health movement. They are challenged to think deeply about the complexity of their own individual identities and how that intersects with what is happening in our provincial mental health system, the New Mentality network, our own personal communities and networks, and what is happening right now in our global community. More information can be found on their website. Mary-Anne encourages the retreat saying it’s always a fun time: “the one hard thing for them to do at the end of the day is say goodbye, so they stretch them out."


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