Social Worker Dan McGann had an idea that has gone on to help thousands of youth struggling with anxiety, depression and mental illness.
Dan has been practicing social work for 30 years. His signature run-therapy program that started at Credit Valley Hospital many years ago has been widely recognized for its help in treating youth. His concept of teaching teens to run in an effort to relieve stress and anxiety has been so effective that Dan has received awards, been sought out by media and spoken at numerous conferences. Team Unbreakable is based on his programs.
Photo: (Left to Right) Founder of CameronHelps (now TeamUnbreakable) David Harris and Dan McGann
We caught up with Dan recently and asked him to elaborate on his work, his ongoing connection to Team Unbreakable and the popularity of his programs.
“I am very practical in my therapeutic approach – not much hand holding – more ‘what can you do about it? What action steps can you take to create something different?’ The reflective ‘how does that make you feel?’ is not really my thing – it’s important at points but I quickly want to move from that to some sort of action,” says Dan.
He continues, “That’s the whole point of the run group. I tell them that the worse thing anyone can do in the face of adversity is nothing – the best is do something … anything! Then I give them options or tools … what can you do – what kind of action. It’s really all about habits in what you chose to do with your body and what you chose to do with your focus.”
“After 14 years of doing the group now I have former graduates who have gone on to university and careers – nurses, business, and even a few social workers – come back and share their stories. That is so powerful and inspirational!”
Dan has a busy private practice and he still finds time to run the newly named Team Unbreakable at Trillium Health Partners group, which is now in its 14th year. A film crew has just completed a documentary on the run group and there is a possibility it will be considered to the Hot Docs film festival in Toronto this June. His group this spring has about 30 clients from 14-26 years old who are mostly battling either anxiety or depression
“I hope to start to slow down a bit at some point. I love what I do but I do look forward to more time with my family in the future.” I will always be grateful to Dave Harris and Cameron Helps/Team Unbreakable program – they have made an incredible impact in bringing the run group approach forward and offering it to so many!”
At a time when wait times for mental health services is many months, there is a desperate need for more Team Unbreakable programs. The school programs give participants tools should they experience the anxiety and depression that now plagues up to 25% of our students. Therapeutic programs like Dan’s at Trillium Health Partners offers his signature practical approach and empowers participants to become immediately active in their treatment. Four program coordinators currently develop volunteer coaching teams or support for more than 100 programs in Peel, Halton, Hamilton and Toronto. But we need your financial support to expand the program, says Team Unbreakable Director Carl Worrell.