National Family and Carers Council

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

Welcome! You’re Among Family

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

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