Project governance

Family & Carers Council


You’re among family

The AFC Council of Family and Carers – A dedicated team!


ACCESS Open Minds Family and Carers Council (AFC) represents the voice of family in the ACCESS Open Minds (ACCESS OM) national research and evaluation network, which aims to transform youth mental health services at 14 service sites across Canada.

The AFC warmly welcomes family and carers of loved ones with mental health concerns. Whether you are a parent, a partner, a sibling, a foster family member, a friend, a roommate or extended family, we welcome you to join our AFC national council.


Family and Carer Reality

Mental illness can have a profound impact on young people and their circle of care. Family and carers face significant challenges in caring for their young person, learning new ways to support and care for their youth along the way.

Too often, family and carers feel isolated and uninformed as they try to understand the experience of their loved one. They attempt to navigate the healthcare system and rules of confidentiality to ensure that their loved one receives the best available care. Families and carers deal with stigma and juggle the emotional, social and economic costs associated with mental illness. They do their best to figure it all out and, too frequently, end up feeling alone, helpless, and exhausted.

A new role, a new relationship

ACCESS OM and the AFC Council are creating a new space for family and carers in youth mental health service planning and delivery. ACCESS OM recognizes that family and carers are an important resource for youth with mental health concerns. Including family and carers means meeting with them where they are at – in their own communities – and being responsive to family and carer cultural diversity.

Family and carers need to know what resources they can rely on for help where they live and through their own culture and tradition.  And they must also be able to connect to and be part of the circles of support found in their local communities.

Our expertise- lived experience

Among its members, the AFC Council counts on a wide variety of lived experience from culturally diverse, rural and remote, urban and Indigenous communities.

The AFC Council understands what family and carers need to be able to effectively support their loved ones:

  • information and education
  • emotional support and self-care
  • a collaborative relationship with service providers
  • to be actively involved – “engaged” – in our loved one’s recovery

Message from Mary Anne Levasseur, AFC National Lead

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. We at AFC are working to give families and carers a better chance at helping their youth, themselves, and others.  Caring for each other and supporting each other are foundational elements of transformation and help to create communities of care. 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

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