General Submissions

Please read the guidelines below to the very end. It is highly recommended to read at least one issue of OMQ before submitting your work. 

We must decline submissions that do not follow the guidelines. 

About & Scope

Open Minds Quarterly features a broad range of writing—including but not limited to prose, poetry, research, and reviews—and visual art. Our intention is to facilitate explorations of life in a mad world. More specifically, our goals are to:

  • Create space for people with lived experience of mental health challenges to consider our similarities, as well as our differences;
  • Facilitate discussions of concepts such as madness, support, recovery, and wellness, in all the forms that may take;
  • Explore and grow the language used to describe people’s experiences of what is variously called mental illness, madness, neurodiversity, mental health challenges etc.; 
  • Acknowledge and address the impact of broader social factors on mental health;
  • Offer our lived experiences to those who have not experienced mental health challenges in an effort to increase understanding and reduce stigma; 
  • And, testify to the significance, impact, and dignity of all our lives.

OMQ is published by NISA/Northern Initiative for Social Action, a member-driven, peer-support mental health organization built on the premise that people with mental health challenges are intelligent, creative, and valuable. Only writers who are personally affected by mental health challenges, whether as a survivor or as an ally or helping professional, are eligible for publication in OMQ.

What We Publish

Please note: The Summer and Winter issues are themed; Fall and Spring issues are open-theme. Our scope is purposefully broad, and OMQ accepts work under the following sections:

  • NONFICTION—Including first-hand accounts, personal essays, and memoir. 3000 word limit.
  • FICTION—Creative explorations of life through a mad lens. 3000 word limit.
  • POETRY—From poets well-versed in mental health challenges. 4 piece/8 page limit.
  • VISUAL ART—Visual, digital, and mixed media expressions. 4 piece/8 page limit.
  • EXPERIMENTAL—Thinking and writing outside of the other boxes. 4 piece/8 page limit.
  • RESEARCH—Studies on mental health that have passed a formal ethics review. 3000 word limit.
  • REVIEWS—Reflections on books, movies, and other art forms. 3000 word limit.
  • LETTERS—Opinion pieces and letters for our editor or readers. 3000 word limit.

A submission is defined as either one piece of prose (including nonfiction, fiction, research, reviews, or letters) of up to 3000 words or less four pieces of either poetry, experimental work, or visual art, totalling no more than eight pages. To ensure everyone has a fair chance to have their submission carefully and expertly reviewed, we will consider only one submission per person each issue

The volume of submissions to OMQ is high, and as a result, we cannot accept nearly as many contributions as we would like. Our acceptance rate is currently between five and 10 per cent, depending on the section of the magazine. We accept simultaneous submissions. Please notify us immediately if your submission is accepted elsewhere. 

Work should be typed and submitted online at


Diversity: We recognize the ongoing marginalization and oppression many of us face because of colonization, racism, misogyny, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, and capitalism, and the ways these and other injustices make us unwell. We welcome people belonging to marginalized communities to submit to OMQ, and we work to prioritize stories and voices that are currently underrepresented in the media. There is an optional space in the submission process to self-identify as belonging to marginalized communities. Any self-identifying information you share in that space will be kept strictly confidential.

Developmental editing: First-time and beginner writers are strongly encouraged to submit their work to OMQ. We often publish first-time writers. Very infrequently, we accept work from first-time writers that shows extraordinary potential to offer a new or unusual take but needs considerable revision before we can publish it. In these cases, our editors will offer the writer an opportunity to learn about writing and editing techniques, identify their writing’s strengths and weaknesses, and revise their work for publication.

Computer access: If you do not have access to a computer or internet at home, you might be able to use computers at your local library or mental health organization. If you have exhausted every alternative, you may submit your work by mail to Open Minds Quarterly, 36 Elgin St., Sudbury, ON P3C 5B4. Mailed submissions will receive a response only if they are accepted. Handwritten submissions are very strongly discouraged, but if you must hand-write your submission, it must be readable.

Payment: It is in the best interest of the magazine to compensate our writers for their hard work, and it is in the best interest of Canadian literature on the whole for writers to earn a decent, sustainable income from their work. It is simply fair for publishers to share profits with writers. OMQ is a project funded by NISA/Northern Initiative for Social Action, a non-profit consumer/survivor initiative in Northern Ontario. Currently, sales and subscription revenues do not cover the cost of publishing the magazine—we do not turn a profit. We are doing everything we can to secure funding for cash payments to everyone who contributes to OMQ. In the meantime, we offer an honorarium of $50 to artists whose work is featured on our front and back covers. Writers and artists published in OMQ receive two contributors’ copies of the issue in which they are published.

Publication rights: If your submission is accepted for publication in OMQ, we will ask you to grant us one-time, non-exclusive serial and/or electronic publication rights to your work. That means we’re asking for permission to publish your work once, in the print (serial) and/or future online (electronic) editions of OMQ, but you retain ownership of your work and can freely submit it for publication elsewhere. This is true whether OMQ is the first place you’ve published your submission, or you have previously published it in another magazine (non-exclusive). If your submission has previously been published in another magazine, book or website, check that they do not own exclusive rights to your work before you submit it to OMQ.

Review process: Submissions to OMQ are reviewed by one or two assistant editors, who advise the editor on whether to accept or decline a piece. Assistant editors are people who are personally affected by mental health challenges, as survivors and supporters, and who are knowledgeable about literature and culture. Our assistant editors conduct an anonymous review of the submissions so please ensure your name or other identifying information are not included within your actual submission file or in the file name anywhere. The editor makes the final decision about whether or not to publish a contribution. Submissions will receive a response within 60 days of the end of the submission period. Editorial decisions are final.

Scholarly review: If we agree that the topic and scope of your research article is suitable for OMQ, we can arrange for anonymous peer review by other scholars, upon request. OMQ staff will conduct an independent ethics review, via NISA’s research group, PARNorth, of any research accepted for publication. 


Business inquiries can be directed to Audrey O’Brien at or 705-222-6472 x 314.

Editorial inquiries can be directed to Ella Jane Myers at or 705-222-6472 x 303.

Thank you for choosing to submit your work to Open Minds Quarterly: Explorations of life in a mad world!

This submission form gives us the information we need to review your submission and, if it is accepted, to publish it in the magazine. We happily accept simultaneous submissions during the initial submission period. Please let us know right away is your submission is accepted elsewhere.

Before submitting, please view our submission guidelines at

Submissions that do not meet the guidelines will be declined.

Spring 2019—Open Theme

Submissions for this issue will open on December 1, 2018, and will remain open until February 28, 2019. 

OMQ publishes submissions from consumers/survivors of mental health challenges/services who have experiences to share and voices to be heard; consumers/survivors are defined as anyone who has lived experience of madness/mental health challenges. We are seeking submissions that are insightful, intelligent, and creative, because we know that's what those of us with lived experience are.

Your writing needn't focus on madness/mental health if you are submitting poetry, fiction, or visual art; however, nonfiction, reviews, open letters, and research should relate specifically to experiences of madness or mental health challenges. We welcome submissions from friends and family members of mental health consumers, but these submissions should be related to your experience with mental health issues as the family member or friend.

OMQ encourages submissions that relate to experiences of being marginalized that include being gendered, racialized, colonized, queer, or otherwise Other, as well as from authors whose communities are typically under-represented. There is an optional space in the submission process to self-identify as belonging to marginalized communities; as we understand some people may not feel comfortable or safe self-identifying, it is by no means mandatory. Any information you share with us on this subject will be kept strictly confidential.

Welcome! Below you will find all the rules and regulations for our 17th Annual BrainStorm Poetry Contest, a small fundraiser organized by NISA/Northern Initiative for Social Action, for our literary magazine Open Minds Quarterly: Life in a mad world ( The contest is open to all writers who have personally experienced mental health challenges, a.k.a. “consumer/survivors” or “people with lived experience.” 

The contest, as always, is anonymously judged by a panel of three or four writers who have lived experience themselves. Our goal is to recognize excellence in the craft of poetry from our community of peers, and to reward that excellence with prizes for the winners. We also celebrate the winners and honourable mentions with publication in Open Minds Quarterly.

The entry fees we collect go towards the monetary prizes, and any dollars collected beyond that go to Open Minds Quarterly. The contest is an important event for our community of readers and writers. We appreciate the support your fees show for our project and your peers, for whom writing is both a healing practice and an art.

To enter the contest online, begin by reading through all the rules and regulations below, then click “Submit.” While we encourage entrants to use our simple and secure online form, we know some writers need other submission options. Click here to find the entry form for mailing in.

Good luck!

Ella Jane Myers

Editor, Open Minds Quarterly

NISA/Northern Initiative for Social Action

Contest Rules & Regulations

The contest is open only to people with lived experience of mental health challenges internationally. It aims to eliminate the stigma associated with these challenges by showcasing the talents and creativity of individuals who have lived through them.

The contest opens Tuesday, January 1, 2019 and closes on Friday, March 8, 2019. All entries must be received before midnight on March 8, and payment must arrive with entry. Entries will not be returned.

Poetry about the experience of mental health challenges is welcomed; however, all subjects are acceptable. Poems are judged on poetic merit: originality, creativity, how well it changed or provoked readers’ thoughts, how well it was written, the effective use of imagery and sound devices, writing mechanics, and whether the poem imparted a sensation after it was read—the last a critical factor in the final round of judging.

The top three winning poems will be published in an upcoming issue of Open Minds Quarterly, NISA’s literary journal, and publicized during Mental Health Week in May 2019. Winners will receive two copies of the issue of Open Minds Quarterly in which their work appears. The top three winners will also receive monetary awards: $250 for First Place; $150 for Second Place; $75 for Third Place. Entries receiving Honourable Mentions will be published in subsequent issues of Open Minds Quarterly. All non-winners will be entered in a random draw to win a free one-year subscription to Open Minds Quarterly or a copy of our anthology In New Light (two draws). The judges’ decisions are final. Monetary prizes will be awarded in Canadian dollars.

Authors retain all rights to their work and, after the contest, are welcome to submit their poems to Open Minds Quarterly for regular review. 

To be eligible, each entry must:

  • be original, unpublished work;
  • be written in English;
  • be accompanied by one entry form for every three poems entered;
  • arrive with your entry fee;
  • NOT have any names or identifying marks (put your name only on the accompanying entry form);
  • be typed;
  • be no more than 30 lines in length;
  • not include any drawings or images;
  • arrive at NISA by 11:59 p.m. of Friday, March 8, 2019;
  • arrive by surface mail, hand delivery, or through the online submission form (no faxes or e-mails);
  • if submitted by mail, be printed on 8.5” x 11” or A4 paper, one poem per page

Poems are not eligible if:

  • they have already been published by or accepted for publication in Open Minds Quarterly or elsewhere;
  • the rules listed above are not followed;
  • entry fee payment is returned due to insufficient funds.

NISA staff and board members are ineligible for entry.

Disqualified entrants will not be notified of disqualification.

Entry Fee

The entry fee is $12 CAD for up to three poems. For mailed entries: Do not send cash in the mail. Cheques or money orders must be made payable to NISA or Northern Initiative for Social Action. Credit card payments can be sent via to, and please include your payment confirmation with your mailed entry form.

Open Minds Quarterly