It’s Not About Us by Todd Leader

Subtitled “The Secret to Transforming the Mental Health and Addiction System in Canada”, this premier release from Nova Scotia’s Cathydia Press is not only a call to reform the present paradigm of treating patients for mental health and addictions, but it is blueprint for managers, leaders and clients regarding how to do it based on the author’s own success in Nova Scotia’s South Shore District Health Authority from 2010 to 2014.

It’s Not About Us is derived in part from a true success story.


Todd Leader’s book is ideal reading not only for the administrators and public health professionals that stand to benefit the most from changing from the medical-based orientation of the present system to a client-based one (the present system is “not about us” clients claim), but also for current sufferers of mental health disorders and addictions for it may move them (and/or their family and friends) to enact change from within the system, as Mr Leader advocates time and again throughout the book.

Extremely readable, practical, and incisive, It’s Not About Us is full of common sense ideas that can be instituted, such as getting rid of long wait times (which only serve to exacerbate issues), hiring people that will give the client a positive experience all the way through the system, and getting rid of such things as automated phone directories (which are not good for those in a fragile state of mind who are reaching out for help):

“Setting up an automated phone system with recorded voices and buttons to push is more harmful to potential clients of a mental health and addiction program than it would be for another kind of health service. The experience of anxiety, depression, social isolation, paranoia, insecurity, trauma, rejection, etc., that these clients live every day increase their need for warmth, compassion, and empathy in order to develop a sense of trust and safety. Without that comfort level, they will be less likely to engage with the service they need. A recorded voice doesn’t provide that.”

This passage is typical of the book: put the client first and get them engaged early in the treatment process. Mr Leader also reiterates time and again throughout the book: “What if it were your mother/father/sister/brother trying to access a service? How would you feel about how they are treated within the existing system? How would you like to see them treated?”

While the concepts advanced in It’s Not About Us are directed toward the public mental heath and addiction treatment community, many of the suggestions could be implemented in any system, public or private to further enable a satisfying client experience.

It’s Not About Us by Todd Leader
Cathydia Press

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Acknowledgements: Todd Leader, Cathydia Press
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