Project governance

Family & Carers Council

Welcome — you’re among family

We — like you — are the families and carers of youth with mental health concerns. We know it’s not easy. These concerns affect one in five Canadian youths. Of those, 75% live with their family. It’s a fact that the onset of mental illness in a young person has a profound impact on everyone around them. ACCESS Open Minds Families and Carers (AFC) represents families — in their many forms — in the ACCESS transformation of the youth mental healthcare system.


Inviting Family to the table

Yes, ACCESS is a project headed by prominent researchers. It aims to make access to services quicker, easier, culturally-appropriate, continuing and seamless. But for families, the project means so much more. It means a place in a new, more inclusive model of care.


ACCESS Open Minds recognizes that families and carers are the most important resource and valuable connection for youth with mental illness.


A new role, a new relationship

Too often, a youth going for help is whisked away, entrusted to a system that leaves family in the waiting room and in the dark. Stigma, isolation, confidentiality and financial burdens conspire with the shock of a diagnosis, leaving families reeling and feeling helpless. They remain profoundly affected and, ultimately, responsible. ACCESS Open Minds recognizes that including families throughout treatment is in the best interest of young people.

Message from Mary Anne Levasseur, National Lead and Coordinator ACCESS Open Minds Families and Carers

As the mother of a young man with mental health concerns, I have given my all to supporting his journey through recovery. Unfortunately, too much of my energy has been wasted navigating a complex healthcare system while defending my role as his caregiver and advocate. The more contact I had with other family caregivers, the more I came to realize that we all face similar challenges.

Sharing information, talking, and listening help. But change at the societal and political level is necessary to re-engage families. We at AFC are working to give families a better chance at helping their youth, themselves and others. Please join us.


Regarding mental illness: “. . . as things work now, it falls to families to organize support groups, construct community centers, create websites and write memoirs full of advice.”

— Andrew Solomon, Far from the Tree