Shedding Light on the Shadow
How a drop-in program for youth is changing the nature of mental health recovery on Toronto’s west side.
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.
About the author, Jen Recknagel
Jen Recknagel is a former Senior Editor at The Local.
About the author, Sampreeth Rao
Sampreeth Rao is a Scarborough-based filmmaker who tells candid stories about marginalization.
Local Journalism Matters.
We are able to provide our award-winning journalism at no cost thanks to the generous support of readers like you. By supporting The Local, you're contributing to the future of local journalism—in-depth, smart, human.Support
More articles on
More from this issue
The Local Wins Two Digital Publishing Awards
The honours include gold in the General Excellence category for the third year in a row.
Awards Season at The Local
We’re honoured to have received nominations for three National Magazine Awards and two Digital Publishing Awards, including for General Excellence.
For Scarborough Bus Riders, a Long Wait Gets Longer
The TTC is implementing a new round of cuts to bus services on March 26. Many of the biggest wait time increases are in Scarborough.
The Private Deals Remaking Long-Term Care
In a province with the highest percentage of for-profit LTC homes in the country, new deals are further consolidating the industry into the hands of a few companies with some of the worst COVID death rates in the country.
Post-Tory Toronto: What Happens Next?
A by-election, an interim mayor, uncertainty around the budget, and the first real race of the “strong mayor” era—what John Tory’s resignation means for Toronto politics.
Understanding John Tory’s Proposed Budget
The first budget of the “strong mayor” era doesn’t do enough to address the city’s long-standing problems.
See the Results of Our Annual Diversity Survey
Every year The Local conducts a diversity survey among staff and contributors. See how we did in 2022.
The Local Journalism Fellowship 2023
Now in its fourth year, the program provides training and mentorship to aspiring and emerging journalists from communities underrepresented in Canadian media. Applications are now open.
A Local Year in Review
Favourite reporting moments, overlooked stories, heaviest furniture to carry up four flights of stairs—a Local staff 2022 roundtable.
How York Memorial Students Got Blamed for the TDSB’s Mistakes
Sensational reports about violence have dominated the narrative around York Memo, ignoring the reality of how, despite warnings, the Board’s decisions have devastated students' access to education.