Dr. Ashok Malla
Nominated Principal Investigator
Srividya Iyer, Ph.D.
Director of Operations
Director of Services and Engagement
Partnerships and Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator
Haley Marion McLean
Program Sustainability and Policy Mobilization Assistant
Training and Knowledge Translation Assistant
Born and brought up in the beautiful Valley of Kashmir, he came into psychiatry not long after having completed his medical degree in the ancient city of Amritsar and after only a relatively brief flirtation with surgery. While initially a reluctant participant, Dr. Malla soon became fascinated by the intricacies of the mind, its various unexplored recesses, range of human behaviour and suffering, multiple paradoxes and the importance of human relations.
Training in England, after just over a year of exposure to psychiatry in India, followed by further training in Canada gave him a global perspective on the human conditions that are subsumed under mental disorders. Dr. Malla has never ceased to be impressed by the vast vicissitudes of human resilience amongst pangs of grief and suffering.
For the past 35 years, he mostly worked with fellow human beings who suffer from serious mental disorders and in the last two decades invested his efforts specifically in early stages of various mental health problems, both in his clinical work and research. He never lost sight of the effect of the larger social environment on the human condition, be it with or without any observable mental disorder.
Dr. Malla has shared many a joyous moment with his patients and their families and, on occasion, their grief as well. He hopes that his optimism and the knowledge he has gained from his patients and their families will guide him to provide a meaningful leadership to this important project, which we all hope will ultimately be more than a project.
In India’s searing southern summers, a little girl, tired by the morning’s play and sated by a sumptuous lunch, would eagerly await naptime. At naptime, her grandma would tell the most mesmeric tales, some made up, others inspired by epics. Their flawed heroes and noble villains were plagued and propelled by passions that they had to reach within themselves to resolve. Those stories piqued the girl’s interest in inner and collective struggles and strengths. That interest became a career in psychology.
That little girl, Srividya Iyer, is now ACCESS’Scientific-Clinical Director. She provides vision and direction to the network’s efforts to transform Canadian youth mental health care. Srividya oversees the work of various coordinators and research assistants. One of her responsibilities is to understand the needs and perspectives of our sites and our constituencies (young people, families, service providers, researchers, decision makers, etc.).
She supports sites in designing and providing care that meets set standards and values. Srividya also designed and leads the research/evaluation component that will examine whether and how ACCESS creates positive change in youth mental health.
Although her current role is vastly more complex than her grandma’s tales, Srividya remains convinced that, as it was for their protagonists, the answers she and the team are seeking lie within people.
Jess handles the administrative and organizational aspects of the project, making sure that everything runs smoothly. Part of her job is to see to it that funds are spent wisely.
Before ACCESS, Jess worked in management and health human resources with the Ontario government. She contributes expertise in administration and finance, as well as health care planning and leadership.
Her desire to contribute to the youth mental health care system is deeply personal. When Jess was a teenager, she lost her sister to suicide. Then countless friends. Seeing firsthand how the mental health care system can fail young people, she is excited to work on a project that aims to bring about change.
Fun fact: Jess owns a Tauntaun sleeping bag.
Ina joined the ACCESS Open Minds team in April 2017. She believes that life has a way of setting her on the right path and ACCESS is where she feels she is meant to be!
Ina comes with nearly twenty years of experience in the delivery and management of youth mental health care in both institutional and community settings. After spending 10 years as a front-line clinical social worker, in both in- and out-patient settings, she had the opportunity to jump into management, and has been jumping to higher levels of responsibility for the past 9 years!
Since the Quebec health care reform 2 years ago, she has been managing two large programs, Child and adolescent psychiatry and Complex mood disorders at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute, an installation of the West Island Integrated University Health and Social Services Centre.
Ina brings with her a great deal of passion, enthusiasm, expertise, advocacy and innovation in youth mental health service delivery as well as relevant management expertise.
Ina has felt privileged of being part of the mental health care field for the past 18 years, and now, having a 13 year old daughter, makes her feel even more fortunate of being able to contribute to the important mission of youth mental health in Canada.
Mireille takes care of all of the backstage activities of the project.
A nutritionist, dietician, as well as a former researcher in her own right, Mireille used to work in the areas of health promotion and disease prevention in special populations, in the United States and in her native Ivory Coast.
Born in a culture that believes “it takes a village to raise a child”, she relates to an environment where youth, families, service users and researchers work together to build a canvas to improve mental health.
Mireille is the busy mom of three children who still finds the time to journal every day and to encourage and motivate women in her community.
Heleen plans how the research will be set up and conducted, in partnership with researchers and network members. She also helps make sure it is carried out properly.
Before joining the ACCESS team, Heleen did really Dutch things, like bike most of her day. She was also a champion in eating cheese. Heleen studied abroad in New Zealand, found a Québécois, finished her Master’s degree in Utrecht, and moved to Montreal in 2008. She worked for a number of years with great enthusiasm at the Prevention and Early Intervention Program for Psychosis (PEPP) in research, evaluation, and project coordination.
A believer that easy access to good mental health services is extremely important for youth in distress, she is very passionate about bridging the gap between research and good clinical practice.
Fun fact: Heleen rowed a 100k marathon over the Dutch channels in 9 hours and 21 minutes.
Chantelle strives to honour the funders’ commitment to multi-stakeholder involvement in ACCESS Open Minds by supporting the Youth and the Family/Carers councils as they contribute their expertise to the project. Chantelle’s role also includes collaborating with community organizations who serve youth and families.
Chantelle worked with and for students at the University of Ottawa and later as a research assistant for the Senate of Canada. Chantelle most recently worked in acute care psychiatry providing psychosocial support to individuals living with mental illness.
Chantelle perceives ACCESS OM as a privileged opportunity to collaborate with community members motivated to work within the mental health system to ultimately improve it for youth in need.
Chantelle loves musicals, cats, laughter, and spontaneous fun.
Laura works on research-related elements including completing ethics submissions, selecting and validating measurement tools, and communicating the ACCESS research protocol.
Laura used to be part of a Rotational Leadership Program for a national insurer where she had five different roles which included pricing group benefits plans and sharing their content with plan members.
She has always had a strong passion to participate in a cultural shift in the mental health care system. Many of her family members and friends live with different mental illnesses and Laura has seen the challenges they experienced while trying to receive appropriate care.
Laura loves her daily bike rides to and from the office – 25 km a day.
Margot acts as a liaison between the sites and ACCESS Open Minds’ central office. Her job is to help support sites in best meeting their youth’s mental health needs, in ways that are relevant to each individual community.
Before joining ACCESS OM, Margot worked as a youth protection social worker and was trained in youth mental health settings. She was also part of several social science research teams.
Mental health is one Canada’s most prevalent—and most stigmatized—issues. Margot feels lucky to work with teams around Canada who are changing how youth mental health care is delivered, so that the next generation has easier access to better care.
Fun fact: a lifelong music aficionado, Margot plays the viola in an amateur community orchestra.
Marianne creates materials for training and knowledge translation that can support sites and their communities in providing evidence-informed and youth-oriented services.
Before joining the ACCESS OM team, Marianne was a youth social counsellor on a pediatric psychiatric unit in Montreal. With her experience as a frontline worker, she understands and values the importance of evidenced-based training for those who provide services to youth and their families.
Marianne considers herself an advocate and ally in supporting youth and their families through the health and social service network. Being part of the ACCESS Open Minds project gives her the opportunity to transform the system for the benefit of the community.
As an activist, she involves her children in showing solidarity with movements such as the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s March held every year in Montreal and across Canada.
Stephanie manages the day-to-day administrative and logistical operations between the central office, sites and stakeholders, and the Douglas, ACCESS’ host institute.
Stephanie is a lifetime learner with a formal education ranging from a liberal arts degree to management courses in health and social services. On top of having extensive coordination and administrative experience in the private and public health care sectors, she also worked for nearly a decade as a licensed massage therapist and is a certified yoga instructor.
Her interest in working for ACCESS reflects a lifelong commitment to health and well-being. The mother of an energetic five-year-old boy, Stephanie intends to open a creative healing retreat centre someday in Quebec’s Outaouais region.
Allison assists with the implementation of the ACCESS Open Minds research protocol by contributing to the development of various data collection tools, ethics submissions and data analysis.
Before joining ACCESS OM, Allison worked as a youth mental health facilitator with the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and was involved in several community-based health and mental health initiatives, while completing her Bachelor in Health Sciences degree at the University of Ottawa.
Having worked with young people for many years, Allison wants to help build a youth mental health care system which welcomes them, making good quality care easily and rapidly accessible.
Allison hopes to one day make a colouring book out of the doodles she draws during meetings.
Before joining ACCESS OM’s central office team, Haley Marion was an active member of her campus, local, and international communities, working with various immigrant, queer, student and mental health advocacy groups. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia, Haley Marion’s interests in international relations, vulnerable population advocacy, and feminism are the result of a non-traditional upbringing.
Her commitment to social inclusion took her to Darmstadt, Germany, where she worked with vulnerable youth in the public education system throughout 2016, before returning to complete her degree at UNB. Most recently, she worked with and for students as the UNBSU Accessibility Coordinator, while developing a community education and awareness campaign with the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce to support newcomer integration.
Haley Marion is inspired by the scalability of the ACCESS OM project, and hopes to help secure its legacy through meaningfully sharing the project’s story and developing policy documents. She wants to help inspire other policy makers to work towards transforming their health care into youth-informed systems that provide appropriate, timely care, so youth no longer have to struggle navigating systems ill-suited to meet their needs.
Haley Marion deals with stress through laughter, and if dog-cat person is a spectrum, she would fall firmly on the dog side.
When Jimmy first heard about ACCESS OM in 2014, he shouted with open arms, “Sign me up!” To him, ACCESS OM was a pinnacle opportunity. Growing up in a culture that didn’t take mental health seriously, Jimmy sought to tear down the walls that trapped his community.
As an ACCESS OM national youth council member since its creation in 2014, Jimmy celebrates every moment with his awesome team. Recently, he completed an undergraduate thesis under the supervision of Dr. Srividya Iyer, performing an auto-ethnography of the annual ACCESS OM network meeting. This summer, he is assisting with two pivotal needs: training and knowledge translation. Specifically, he is facilitating a three-module, patient-oriented research training by SPOR. Additionally, he is harnessing the wealth of knowledge from the ACCESS OM hiring process. He also serves as a youth liaison for PRISM-AOM, a component of ACCESS OM’s eMental Health strategy.
Starting this autumn, Jimmy will continue his mental health advocacy as a first-year medical student at the University of Toronto.
Fun fact: Jimmy has been eating virtually the same breakfast for the past 12 years: A banana, two slices of bread, an egg, one glass of milk, and yogurt.
Kathleen is pursuing her doctoral studies under the supervision of Dr. Srividya Iyer, examining help-seeking experiences and pathways to mental health services for youth in Canada.
After obtaining her Master’s degree in Brain Sciences from the University of Glasgow, Kathleen worked as a research assistant at the Prevention and Early Intervention Program for Psychosis (PEPP), in Montreal.
Kathleen joined ACCESS because she is hopeful it can make a difference for youth. While growing up in a small rural community, she too often witnessed just how inaccessible our mental health services can be.
Kathleen loves road trips, which are often extended by her tendency to confuse left and right when giving directions.