The experience of coming to terms with a mental health condition can be overwhelming and isolating for anyone at any age. For Hernan Munoz, 24, the feeling of chronic unease and utter loneliness was compounded by the cultural stigma of mental health he felt from his community. His mother was an immigrant from Ecuador who was working multiple jobs to keep the family afloat and didn’t have a framework for mental health. His father was not in the picture.
“At that time I used to really believe in God a lot because I was brought up a Catholic,” says Munoz. “So nothing made sense because I was like, you know, I haven’t done anything bad.”
It wasn’t until he discovered CAMH’s drop-in space for youth with early onset psychosis at St. Clair and Old Weston Road that things began to change. Here Munoz found a community of like-minded people who were struggling with the same things. For the first time he felt a sense of real community — a place where he could socialize with other people and share what was going on in his head without fear of judgment. Eventually this led him to the music program run by CAMH staff and volunteers, which Hernan says changed the course of his life.