About us banner

About Us

The Collaborative Learning College (CLC) is a nonclinical education and training program that offers courses which are led by and for people with lived/living experience of mental health and substance use challenges. It is a place where individuals are supported to achieve self-identified goals through a model that emphasizes self-determination, lived experience leadership, meaningful engagement and collaboration. 

At the Collaborative Learning College, individuals can participate in courses that broadly fall within the following categories: 

  • Mental Health & Wellness
  • Employment & Career Development
  • Arts & Recreation
  • Life Skills Development

We are a low barrier program that is open to anyone who self-identifies as having lived experience with mental health and/or substance use challenges, 16 years and older. You do not need a referral or a diagnosis to participate in our programming. All of the courses we offer are free of charge.

The Collaborative Learning College is a program of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and is situated on lands that have been occupied by First Nations for millennia; lands rich in civilizations with knowledge of medicine, architecture, technology and extensive trade routes throughout the Americas. The site of CAMH appears in colonial records as the council grounds of the Mississaugas of the New Credit (as their name in 1860) today known as the Mississaugas of the Credit.

Our team

Sydney Vogel (she/her) – Program Engagement Co-Facilitator – holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Queen’s University, and is a certified Peer Support Worker. Sydney's expertise has been enhanced through her involvement in community initiatives, healthcare, academia, non-profit, and corporate domains. She is passionate about equity, diversity and inclusion, and wellness. These passions have been demonstrated in Sydney’s past work experiences at Jack.org, Hope+Me, as well as Mount Sinai Hospital, and continue to shine in her current role with CLC. Sydney enjoys being in nature, going to concerts, and taking part in book club meetings with her friends.

Gail Bellissimo (she/her) – Program Engagement Co-Facilitator – has been working in patient/family engagement for over seven years, and has been a member of various CAMH research projects and committees, including the Constituency Council and its Steering Committee. As a member of the CLC working group since its inception, her experience collaborating with such an amazing team led her to join CAMH as a full-time Program Engagement Co-Facilitator. It is here where you find Gail immersed in co-design, research, evaluation, facilitating classes, and promoting the CLC as a space of wellness, inclusion, and community.

Caroline Walker (she/her) – CH&E Assistant – is passionate about lifelong learning. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and a Master of Information and hopes to use her education in service of people with mental illness. She was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder after two major hospital stays at CAMH with severe, treatment-resistant psychosis and depression. She has spoken openly about her illness in many fora, reducing stigma and blasting stereotypes of people with psychotic disorders. An avid dog lover, she volunteers with Coveted Canines Toronto Rescue where she got her beloved dog Karma and with her alma mater’s Friends of the Library.

Jackie Relihan (all pronouns) – Coordinator- has extensive experience working alongside people with lived experience of mental health or substance use challenges to support decisions around service planning, policy development and research within CAMH and the community. As a young person with lived experience, they are passionate about making a positive change to the current youth mental health system and truly believes there is much room to make it better than it currently is. They are a strong advocate for youth engagement in research and service planning and former co-lead of CAMH’s National Youth Action Council, which is a group of passionate young advocates from across Canada who provide feedback on projects related to mental health and substance use. Outside of work Jackie is passionate about geology, rollercoasters and space.

Sam Gruszecki (he/him) – Coordinator- is a nationally certified peer supporter who has been involved in engagement work for over 10 years and was instrumental in the development and delivery of Canada’s first recovery college, the STAR Learning Centre, focused on supporting individuals dealing with housing instability. He currently supports the coordination of the Collaborative Learning College at the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health with, amongst other phenomenal team members, his K9 companion Pelusa.

Jordana Rovet (she/her) – Coordinator- is a registered social worker with a Master's degree and Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Toronto Metropolitan University. Jordana has over 10 years of experience working alongside individuals who struggle with challenges related to mental health and substance use as a program coordinator. Her philosophy stems from a harm reduction approach, which emphasizes the importance of positioning individuals as the experts of their own lives and taking into account the social and political context in which their lives are embedded. Jordana is particularly passionate about projects that promote systemic change through increasing accessibility and health equity while centering lived experience perspectives. Beyond work, she enjoys spending time outdoors with her miniature dachshund and tackling DIY interior design projects.