Pre-Register for our August CSI Event

At our first CSI event, we’ll be looking at the Lack of Service Coordination & System Navigation in London-Middlesex. Interested in attending? Send us a message to be added to our email list.

Register Here

Download your free copy of the Mental Health Peer Support Guidebook

Written by the MINDS youth council, this book aims to ease the burden of mental ill-health by helping youth in gathering the tools they need to support their friends while staying well.

Register Here


MINDS is a team of researchers dedicated to finding fresh solutions for the mental health and addiction challenges faced by young people. We collaborate closely with young individuals who have direct experience with these issues to develop innovative ideas. MINDS is currently overseeing several projects focusing on different aspects of youth well-being, all co-created and tested by young community members.

Looking ahead to 2024, we’re expanding our efforts with two new programs: Mindful Social Innovation (MSI) Training and Community System Innovation (CSI). These initiatives aim to engage change leaders (including you), from diverse backgrounds to drive positive change in our healthcare system. We partner with mental health programs and organizations, continuously assessing the impact of our projects and reaching out to thousands of individuals in our community.

MINDS Ongoing Work

Find out how MINDS is pioneering projects focused on addressing complex challenges in youth mental health and addiction. Through innovative solutions and collaborative efforts, MINDS aims to improve the well-being of young people in our community and beyond.


Mindful Social Innovation (MSI) Training

We want to create a sustainable community of change by providing experiential learning and tools…

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Mental Health and Addiction Imaginarium

The Imaginarium is a collaborative space to (re)imagine and (re)define mental health and addiction…

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Community System Innovation (CSI)

Work with a multi-stakeholder team to collaborate and create prototypes that address the issues…

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We’re working alongside young people with lived experience to understand what matters to them and how we can enhance the system based on t…

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Safe Storytelling

A toolkit that promotes storytelling as a tool against stigma, fostering empathy and understanding…

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Mental Wellness Profile

An interactive tool for users to create a visual representation for their journey with mental health that can be used to share their experie…

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Youth Centred Practice

Youth-Centred Practice (YCP) is an innovative initiative aimed at transforming mental health care for young individuals by placing their…

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Fixing the Cracks

Fixing the Cracks: A Toolkit for Youth and Adult Allies is an essential resource designed to mend the bonds between young adults and their…

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Mental Health Peer Support Guidebook

The Peer Support Guidebook, a valuable resource developed by the Youth Mental Health and Addictions Council (YMHAC) in response to…

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Youth Mental Health and Addiction Council

The Youth Mental Health & Addictions Council (YMHAC) is a dynamic initiative that amplifies the voices of young people in London…

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Making Sense

Get Excited about

To achieve our goal of addressing complex challenges in youth mental health and addiction, we believe it’s crucial to take a thoughtful approach. This means delving into the current state of the mental health and addiction care system to understand its strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. By gaining this understanding, we can lay a solid foundation.
Our upcoming work on Collective System Innovation (CSI) and Mindful Social Innovation (MSI) is centered on collaboration and innovation. We’ll be working closely with young people who have lived experience, as well as experts in the field, to develop creative and effective solutions. This collaborative effort ensures that the solutions we create are meaningful, relevant, and impactful for improving the overall well-being of young people facing mental health and addiction challenges.

Highlighted Blog Posts

Explore MINDS’ ongoing and pioneering projects in our blog, focusing on addressing complex challenges in youth mental health and addiction in London-Middlesex


It’s a whole new MINDS

MINDS is a mindful social innovation and research lab dedicated to designing, piloting, and testing innovations to mental health and…

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The Road to Mental Health is Expanding into Indigenous Communities

The Road to Mental Health project is such an interesting intervention that’s come so far. When we started on this project, we talked about…

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You’re Invited to our 2022 MINDS Convening

The MINDS Convening 2022 will be an opportunity to share and celebrate the various interventions that have been successfully …

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Meet Lily

My name is Lily and I am one of the Research Assistants at MINDS. Through this role, I am the EDI evaluator of the various prototypes…

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 In Memory of Eugenia Canas

This post is In memory of Dr. Eugenia Canas who passed away on June 18th, 2021. Eugenia was a thoughtful and considerate soul…

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Introducing MINDS 2.0

Did you know that more than 6.7 million Canadians are presently living with a mental health disorder? Mental health is a significant…

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Minds Staff

MINDS Staff and Volunteers

Our cross-disciplinary team is built on the idea that we all have something unique to offer. We could not do what we do without their extraordinary support.

Arlene McDougall

Arlene MacDougall (she/her)

Director and Principal Investigator

Dr. Arlene MacDougall is an accomplished psychiatrist, leader, researcher and innovator. She has led the development of transformative and novel cross-sectoral initiatives to address the growing burden of mental ill-health both locally and globally. She has authored over 50 publications and has been recognized as a global Young Physician Leader by the InterAcademy Partnership. Arlene is passionate about integrating mindfulness, social-emotional learning and social innovation tools and processes to catalyze self and system transformations for mental health and wellbeing.

Renee Hunt

Associate Director, Research and Operations

Renee is passionate and accomplished researcher whose focuses on general health and well-being, with an emphasis on mental health related to positive psychological practices and patterns of interpersonal behaviour. Before beginning her role with MINDS, Renee was a Mitacs Elevate Program Postdoctoral Fellow, Western University and graduated with her PhD in Social Psychology from Wilfrid Laurier.

Melissa Taylor-Gates (she/they)

Associate Director, Innovation and Engagement

Melissa has been working in youth mental health since 2012, focusing on youth co-creation and innovation. Melissa has a master’s degree in library and information science from Western University and is a certified project manager. She believes foremost in empathy and compassion as a means to combat power inequality and support authentic communication between diverse people. They have a soft spot for a good book, game and cup of tea.

Shara Thomas (she/her)

Programs and Innovation Officer

Shara specializes in curriculum development and program design, where she merges creativity and strategic thinking to build programs that provide meaning, connection and value for those she serves. Having collaborated with global health professionals on innovative mental health-focused projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, El Salvador, and Canada, she brings much gratitude and experience to her work. Outside of work, you can find her listening to music, enjoying a cup of tea, and delving into a good book.

Daphne Varghese (she/her)

Research Associate

Daphne is a PhD candidate from the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa. Her doctoral research is on social innovation in higher education, especially with regards to the influence of philanthropic foundations on social innovation initiatives in Canadian universities. She has been involved in research that maps the leadership practices of social innovators as well as examining the progression and influence of social innovation initiatives within the context of Canadian universities.

Jennifer Silcox (she/her)

Research Associate

Jennifer is an assistant professor in the Department of Child and Youth Studies at King’s University College at Western University. Her main areas of research include social inequality, youth mental health, and youth crime and legislation in Canada. She graduated with a PhD in Sociology, with a specialized focus in criminology, from Western University. In her personal time, she enjoys volunteering with wildlife rescue and rehabilitation and spending time with family and friends.

Grace O'Connor

Grace O’Connor

Research Associate

Grace is in her 4th year of neuroscience and biology at Dalhousie University completing her honours in Dr Sean Barrett’s lab studying nicotine addiction. She has previously worked as a research assistant with Dr. Igor Yakovenko researching opioid psychosocial and opioid agonist treatments. Grace is interested in pursuing a research career studying the intersection of mental health and addiction. In her spare time, Grace loves to play pickleball, tennis and spend time with friends.

Adit Singh Thakur

Business Research Assistant

Adit holds a Master of Science in International Business from Ivey Business School at Western University. Since early 2024, he has been working closely under Melissa Taylor-Gates as a Business Research Assistant at MINDS. In this role, Adit focuses on business, strategy, and marketing research, helping to address various business challenges and providing support as needed. His professional interests lie in analyzing business problems from multiple perspectives. When not at work, Adit maintains an active lifestyle through regular exercise. He also keeps himself informed about current business trends and developments. For entertainment, he enjoys binge-watching the TV series Suits, as well as various documentaries and YouTube content.

Lily Yosieph

Lily Yosieph (she/her)

Research Associate

Lily is currently an EDI evaluator and adult liaison to the Youth Mental Health and Addictions Council (YMHAC), which she previously co-facilitated with Alec Cook. Lily admires the transdisciplinary approach to solving complex mental health system challenges within the MINDS lab; outside of work, she enjoys catching up on quality time with friends and family.



​​Alec is a undergraduate student at Western University, completing an honours specialization in psychology. Alec has been a part of MINDS since 2018, starting as a co-op student in his senior year of high school. He is currently leading the studying Youth-Centred Practice project. Alec is also a facilitator of the Youth Mental Health and Addictions Council (YMHAC).



Iylah is an undergraduate student at King’s University pursuing an Honors double major in Psychology and Sexuality Studies. They joined MINDS in 2019 to work on the Safe Storytelling Toolkit, and now also lead the Mental Wellness Profile and Queer in the Classroom initiatives. Outside of work, they are passionate about volunteering, writing, and advocacy.



​​Richard Booth is an associate professor at the Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing (Western University) and a clinician researcher with an active research program exploring health informatics, human-technical relationships, and psychiatric-mental health nursing. Richard is an avid angler and will find any excuse use his charcoal barbeque in the rain, snow, or sun.



Abe is Associate Professor in the School of Nursing and the Arthur Labatt Family Chair in Nursing Leadership in Health Equity. Abe is passionate about using research for system change to ensure those experiencing health and social challenges are adequately supported and stably housed. Abe enjoys swimming, biking, running and spending time with his family outdoors.



​Kelly Anderson is a Canada Research Chair in Public Mental Health Research, and an Associate Professor in the Departments of Epi-demiology & Biostatistics and Psychiatry. Her research program is focused on risk and protective factors for population mental health, and access to mental health care. Kelly enjoys reading and building Lego with her kids.

“There is much gray area in the field, and we can’t be in black and white thinking. It’s that puzzle piece or cookie-cutter treatment that’s black and white. We can’t do that for each child because each child is not that cookie cutter shape.”

Fanshawe Student

Youth Centred Practice