National Youth Council

The National Youth Council contributes to the project by providing their expertise as young people to make sure that what the ACCESS Open Minds Network creates is more youth friendly.

  • Why We Matter

    This National Youth Council is a community in and of itself. It has connected youth with lived experience with peers from various backgrounds living thousands of kilometres and many provinces apart. Together, we share an authentic commitment to addressing service gaps and improving mental health care for youth in Canada. We advocate for system-wide transformation that gives youth a voice in their own mental health care. We are the first to call out tokenized involvement. We hold space for diversity and work together by acknowledging our strengths. We have an impact on our communities and that’s why we’re at the table. We want things to change.

    The National Youth Council gives us a different kind of purpose and an opportunity to be seen as equals alongside experts of all walks of life from researchers to psychiatrists and policymakers; the wealth of knowledge within our Council and the ACCESS Open Minds network is so incredible. And, we are supported. This Council keeps us connected to our local and national community. It provides us a platform from which we can spring off of to a horizon filled with hope and opportunity.

    “I think that ACCESS really helped build a community of people who support each other. ACCESS OM showed me the importance to listen to our youth because they have so much to say. I feel by creating a safe place for our youth like ACCESS we are able to help the youth that will lead our generation for the better.” – Shasini Gamage, National Youth Council member from Parc-Extension

    “I have only attended one meeting with the Youth Council so far, but I immediately felt part of the group from the beginning. The group is very open to ideas, taking on responsibilities, and projects (all are such great leaders). I am very involved within my site and in the youth space, even more so now that I’m a Youth Council Member because I want to do more things and to bring forward more experiences and knowledge to my fellow Youth Council members. […] The Youth Council is allowing me to connect with other communities to know what programs and activities they do or are aware of happening, learn about the things that work or don’t work. The Youth Council is already giving me so many opportunities to connect with other individuals, build relationships, learn from others so that everything I learn and experience I want to be able to bring back to my community and share it with them.” –Bernadette, Eskasoni First Nation


  • Planning Our Shared Future

    We’re hyper-aware that funding for this pan-Canadian research project is coming to a close.

    To us, ACCESS Open Minds is so much more than a research project. We’ve committed heart and soul to ACCESS Open Minds mission and objectives. Incredible change has already taken place across the sites. We refuse to accept that the future of youth mental health care in Canada will revert to “business as usual” if ACCESS Open Minds isn’t sustained.

    As such, we’ve been reaching out to local and national media to share our insights into the relevance of quality, timely mental health care, which needs to be evaluated in real time with youth involved in every step of the way. These are the principles that ACCESS Open Minds is championing in local communities across Canada. The change must continue, by youth, for youth, and supported by all community members. This change must be anchored in evidence-based practices and must be sustained to continue to offer youth a hopeful, brighter future where we are treated with dignity and respect.

    We’ve been speaking out at conferences like the Canadian Mental Health Association conference, guiding participants through an interactive “choose your own adventure” activity to highlight challenges and strategies for successful youth engagement. We also spoke about our initiative that led to the mandated inclusion of youth and families in all hiring processes. We’ve also connected with the Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario team to share lessons that we’ve learned along the way.

    We’re hopeful that policymakers will be attentive to our vision and will see that ACCESS Open Minds is the way to go!

  • Conferences & Meetings

    External Conferences 2018-19


    ACCESS Open Minds Network Meetings 2017-2018 | Youth Council Meeting 2019

  • Resources

    Hiring the Best Candidate: A Concrete, Practical Way to Partner with Youth on Human Resource Hiring Decisions
     Authors: Jimmy Tan, Sara Jalali, Chantelle Mireault, Alyssa Framptom, Brittany Dalfen, Feodor Poukhovski-Sheremetyev, & Srividya Iyer


    This poster was presented at the International Association for Youth Mental Health (IAYMH) 2019. You can view the poster here.

    ACCESS Open Minds National Youth Council: A Pan-Canadian Youth Partnership Strategy
    Authors: Sara Jalali, Jimmy Tan, Alyssa Frampton, Chantelle Mireault, Feo P-S, Brittany Dalfen, & Srividya Iyer

    This poster was presented at the International Association for Youth Mental Health (IAYMH) 2019. You can view the poster here.

Meet the Youth Council

Brittany Dalfen (Former Co-Chair)
Feo Poukhovski-Sheremetyev (Co-Chair)

Feodor Poukhovski-Sheremetyev is a second-year medical student at the University of Ottawa and has been with ACCESS Open Minds for almost five years. Throughout his post-secondary career, he has advised youth mental healthcare policy and service design at the local, provincial, and national levels. Focusing on how factors outside the clinic affect youth, his advocacy has led him to examine the macrosocial determinants of mental health through interdisciplinary research in psychiatry and social theory.

Mehul Gupta

Mehul Gupta is a Member-at-Large of the Access Open Minds National Youth Council, and is a first-year medical student, with an interest in neuroscience. Outside of medicine, Mehul has a strong passion for addressing systemic barriers that many young people face in accessing mental health supports in their community. Outside of school and advocacy, Mehul loves to read, write, and get out in his community by playing basketball or going for a run!

Gabriella Urgel (Co-Chair)

Gabby Urgel is a youth council member that lives in Saint John, NB and serves as both a National Youth Council member and as a local youth council member at PEER SJ.  She is a strong mental health advocate and loves to share her passion with others.  She openly shares her experiences with living with mental health struggles and actively shares her story with others such as when spoken as a previous keynote speaker at Recovery Day Saint John 2019 on behalf of PEER SJ. Currently, she is a student in her final year of a BA in psychology at the University of New Brunswick and is hoping to apply into a social work program upon graduation.  She has a background working with youth through creative expression in projects like Photovoice, and volunteering with other organizations such as Camp Kerry Society.

Jimmy Tan

Jimmy Tan (he/him) is a youth advocate living in Toronto. Jimmy’s dedication to youth mental health originated since early adolescence, leading him towards a range of youth advisory roles.

Jimmy believes the ‘secret ingredient’ to a project is empowering the voices of young people. He has special interests in integrated youth services, systems implementation, and global mental health. Jimmy is currently training in medicine at the University of Toronto.

When Jimmy is not advocating for youth mental health, he can be found catching them all on the mobile game Pokémon GO (spoiler: he has not caught them all yet).

Alyssa Frampton (Former Co-Chair)

Alyssa Frampton is based remotely in K’Jipuktuk, (Halifax). She has been part of the ACCESS Open Minds Network since its inauguration – starting as a youth council member, and now working with both the central office team and the youth council. Along with being a member of the ACCESS OM Network, Alyssa has worked at the intersections of community engagement, health and policy for the past 7 years in various roles, most recently as an associate with Wisdom2Action. Alyssa has led and advised a number of initiatives focused on youth and community based mental health, health rights, and advocacy. Alyssa holds a degree in political science from Saint Mary’s University and has completed additional online courses in global adolescent health, youth mental health, harm reduction, and children’s rights. Outside of work, Alyssa is a lover of bad reality TV and swimming as much as possible.

Teresa Chen

Throughout my life, I have watched many loved ones struggle with their mental health and because of this lived experience, along with work and volunteering in mental health I’ve gained a deep understanding of its complexities and challenges. However, my involvements have also given me an opportunity to witness the difference we can make when we work together. It’s awesome to meet people across the country who are passionate about this as well and I hope that together we can make lasting progress for youth mental health in Canada.

Tashina Hachey

My name is Tashina Hachey. I am 18 years old. I have been with ACCESS OM since 2017, during this time I joined the Elsipogtog youth council where I was then invited to join the provincial youth council in 2017 and asked to join the national youth council in 2018. Personally, I’ve never truly struggled with mental health but I knew how my friends felt and struggled in their everyday life and I just wanted to learn more about mental health but also the stigma behind it.

Charles-Albert Morin (Former Co-Chair)

Charles-Albert studied political science and international studies at the Université de Montréal. He helps to raise awareness about mental illness and works actively to reduce stigma. He is also actively involved in sharing his experiences and his vision of a greatly improved health care system. In 2016, he launched a petition sponsored by Québec solidaire for the reimbursement of psychotherapy by the state on the site of the National Assembly of Québec. Charles-Albert is the co-leader of the ACCESS Open Minds Youth Council.

Emily Saunders (Former Co-Chair)