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Creating a better future for communities through research

Leaders Mobilizing Change

Apr 13, 2010

Leaders Mobilizing Change  is an innovative workshop designed to Inspire, Educate and Equip leaders with the tools for making mental health services more culturally responsive.   A series of day-long workshops are being held across the province to bring together leaders and decision makers in mental health and settlement organizations with leaders in marginalized cultural-linguistic communities. The workshop has received funding from Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Local Health Integration Networks have been supporting the initiative through promoting the workshops to their regional mental health and addiction networks.

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The Reality

In just one generation, the cultural face of Canadian society has changed dramatically. Community mental health organizations in Canada's cities have been struggling to respond to this new diversity. Many cultural groups lack access to effective mental health services, even though community-based supports have the potential to improve their mental health.

Taking Culture Seriously in Community Mental Health ( was a five year CURA research program lead by the Centre for Community Based Research.  It found that the needs of marginalized cultural linguistic communities were not being met by the community mental health system and explored how best to provide community-based mental health supports that are effective within multicultural Canada. The program brought together a variety of university and community partners in Toronto and Waterloo Region.  The study found that central to achieving effective services is the active collaboration and partnerships of mental health policy-makers and system planners, mental health organizations and practitioners, and cultural-linguistic communities.

Leaders Mobilizing Change in Kitchener, Jan 18 2010
Leaders Mobilizing Change in Kitchener, Jan 18 2010


The purpose of the workshop is to support systems and organizational change by identifying local opportunities and strategies to move culture from the margins to the core of mental health services. In each region across the province, the workshop has been providing the opportunity for management and community members to network and establish connections around changing the mental health system.  

Through the original theatre performance by MT Space, The Other End of the Line, participants have been inspired to look at the mental health system through the eyes of marginalized cultural communities. Framing these challenges within the broader theoretical and evidence-based contexts has also helped to educate participants on how the mental health system and cultural communities can come together to strengthen mental health services. The exercises, discussions and take-home materials have equipped participants with strategies for improving practice.

The Outcomes

The workshop aims to be one step in the process of effecting systems and organizational change, and eliminating barriers in the community mental health service system across Ontario. Discussions have helped build a sense of shared responsibility and vision, along with manageable next steps. Feedback from participants has been very positive and many have identified concrete actions and goals for their organizations and communities.