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A case study of a long-term collaboration between multiple mental health agencies, the school system, and a family. A child with extreme, complex mental health and behavioral challenges that include bipolar with psychotic elements, inhibition disorders, and multiple learning disabilities was able to stay in school, stay alive, and eventually graduate. This was possible through extensive collaboration and shared efforts between the school, the school board, the local lead mental health agency, regional mental health agencies, and the family.

In the workshop we will provide an overview of what worked and why, challenges to collaboration and times when it did not work well, and suggestions for how lead agencies can work with school systems and families to build a holistic approach to youth mental wellness.


Jeff Warner (he/him) is the parent of three boys, all of whom have mental health challenges. He is one of the chapter leaders for Parents for Children’s Mental Health (Guelph), and a member of the Family Advisory Council for the Child-Parent Resource Institute in London, Ontario. He has spoken at numerous conferences about his family’s journey through the mental health system. Jeff has been an educator for twenty years, and is currently the Program Coordinator for Religion and Family Life, Equity Diversity and Inclusion, and Indigenous Education for the Wellington Catholic District School Board.

Sony Brar (she/her), MSW., RSW., is the Mental Health Lead and Senior Manager of Mental Health Services for the Wellington Catholic District School Board. Sony works closely with School Mental Health Ontario, and is the direct liaison for community partners among her many responsibilities. As well, she serves on the VTRA Regional Committee, is a member of the Board of Directors for Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition, Community Mental Health Collaborative, Rural Wellington Connectivity Table, Safe Communities, Wellington Drug Strategy, Growing Great Generations, Ensuring System Success, Single Point of Access to Residential Care (SPARC), and Village Finding, F&CS.

Lisa Hohenadel (she/her) has worked with the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington since 2012 as an Intensive Case Manager in Children’s Mental Health. Lisa works with some of the most complex cases assigned to Children’s Services, which often involve complicated diagnoses, multiple service providers and previous involvement with the mental health system. As an Intensive Case Manager, Lisa provides support and resources to the client and family, advocates for appropriate services to be provided, and plans, organizes and chairs case conferences between all involved parties. Lisa’s role can often be difficult and multifaceted, however she is passionate about seeing her clients and clients’ families make progress and build capacity to better manage their complex mental health conditions.

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