General Submissions

Please note: The process for submitting your work to OMQ has changed. There will be a submission period for each issue. The Summer and Winter issues of each year will be themed issues. Fall and Spring issues will be open-theme. Please read the guidelines below and at least one issue of OMQ before submitting your work.

Submission Guidelines

Please note that these guidelines are updated from our website, as we are currently having technical difficulties editing the site. 

About & Scope

Open Minds Quarterly is a glossy 28-page consumer magazine with paid circulation, which features poetry, memoir, fiction, interviews, reviews and other writing and art by people whose experiences are often diagnosed as mental illnesses or addictions, and by our supporters and allies. OMQ aims to amplify the voices of people personally affected by mental illness and/or addiction, facilitating explorations of life with(in) illness and recovery. In so doing, we:

  1. grow the language, narrative structures and media forms available to us for making sense of our world, helping to shape contemporary Canadian and world literatures;
  2. offer our lived experiences to inform policy, legislation and community attitudes around mental illness;
  3. create space for people with lived experience of mental illness and/or addiction to consider our differences, the marginalization and oppression many of us face because of colonization, racism, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, ableism and capitalism, and the ways these injustices make us unwell; and
  4. testify to the significance, impact and dignity of our lives, in spite of the stigma that marks us otherwise.

OMQ is published by Northern Initiative for Social Action, a peer-run mental health support organization built on the premise that people with mental illnesses and/or addictions are intelligent, creative and valuable.

While our primary focus is on literature and other creative works, we regularly publish interviews reflecting on themes addressed in the magazine, reviews of books, films, websites and other media relevant to our readers, and – very rarely – opinion, editorial and research writing. In addition to publishing written contributions, we accept submissions of photographs, visual art and cartoons for publication on the cover or inside the magazine, and of video, audio and multimedia creative works for publication in OMQ Online, our forthcoming online supplement to OMQ.

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 5 and 10 percent, depending on the section of the magazine, but we hope to accept more submissions once our Online Edition is ready for launch. The work we publish is insightful and well-written, offering unique, critical or novel perspectives on life with(in) mental illness, addictions and recovery. Only writers who are personally affected by mental health or addiction issues, whether as a survivor or as an ally or helping professional, are eligible for publication in OMQ.

What We Publish

Our scope is purposefully broad. We want to review and disseminate explorations of life with(in) mental illness and/or addictions, as well as discussion of concepts such as recovery and wellness, in all the forms these works might take.

Both OMQ and OMQ Online are composed of the following sections:

Attestations—Creative nonfiction, including personal essays & memoir 󠇋● 1000-3000 words

Refractions—Fiction, drama & other forms of storytelling ● 1000-3000 words

Inscriptions—Interviews, reviews, opinion & research articles 󠇋● 1000-3000 words

Emanations—Poetry, flash prose & similar ● up to 4 pieces, max. 8 pages/3000 words

Manifestations—Visual, digital & mixed media 󠇋● up to 4 pieces, max. 8 pages/3000 words

Disorientations—Experimental writing 󠇋● up to 4 pieces, max. 8 pages/3000 words

Work should be typed and submitted online at

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. Most public libraries offer computer assistance as a standard service. If you have exhausted every alternative, you may submit your work by mail to Open Minds Quarterly, 36 Elgin St., Sudbury ON P3C5B4. 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.

We accept simultaneous submissions, and if we ask to hold your work for placement in a future issue of OMQ, you may still submit it elsewhere. Please notify us immediately if your submission is accepted elsewhere. To ensure everyone has a fair chance to have their submission carefully and expertly reviewed, we will consider only one submission at a time (including submissions held for future issues) from each writer. Because our assistant editors are volunteers with limited time and who review within their areas of specialization only, we must decline submissions that do not conform to our guidelines. 

We regret that we do not have the labour power necessary to accept submissions by email, nor to answer queries by email or telephone about whether a submission has been received/read or why a submission was not accepted. Our editor does not answer unsolicited enquiries by phone. Business enquires can be directed to Audrey O’Brien at or 705-222-6472 x 314.


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 on mental illness/addiction 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.

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 and OMQ Online receive two contributors’ copies of the issue in which they are published, or two copies of the latest issue of OMQ, if they are published online only.

Publication: 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 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-in-chief on whether to accept or decline a piece. Assistant editors are people who are personally affected by mental illness, as survivors and supporters, and who are knowledgeable about literature and culture. The editor-in-chief makes the final decision about whether or not to publish a contribution. Submissions to particular issues of OMQ will receive a response within one month of the end of the submission period. Submissions to OMQ Online will be reviewed as quickly as possible, but may not receive a response for several months. 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 blind 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. 

Ends on February 28, 2018

Thank you for choosing to submit your work to Open Minds Quarterly: Explorations of Life With(in) Mental Illness, Addiction & Recovery

This submission form gives us the information we need to review your submission and, if it is accepted, to publish it in the magazine.

Work that we wish to accept, but which we cannot fit into this issue, will be held for consideration for future issues for one year. We happily accept simultaneous submissions during the initial submission period, and if we notify you that we wish to hold your submission for consideration for future issues, then you may submit it elsewhere in the meantime as well. Please let us know right away is your submission is accepted elsewhere.

Before submitting, please view our submission guidelines at

Spring 2018—Open Theme

The Spring 2018 issue is an open-themed issue, so you may submit work on any topic within our scope. 

OMQ publishes submissions from consumers/survivors of mental illness who have experiences to share and voices to be heard, consumers/survivors are defined as anyone who has lived experience with mental illness or had personal mental health concerns. We are seeking that are insightful, intelligent and creative, because we know that's what mental health consumers are.

Your writing needn't cover mental health issues if you are submitting poetry or fiction; however, first person accounts, essays, reviews and open letters should relate to your experience with(in) mental illness, addiction & recovery. 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 gendered, racialized, colonized, queer or otherwise Other, as well as from authors whose communities are typically under-represented in mass media. 

Ends on March 9, 2018$12.00

Welcome! Below you will find all the rules and regulations for our 16th Annual BrainStorm Poetry Contest, a small fundraiser organized by NISA/Northern Initiative for Social Action for our literary magazine Open Minds Quarterly: Explorations of life with(in) mental illness, addiction & recovery ( The contest is open to all writers who have personally experienced addiction, mental illness or mental health challenges, a.k.a. “consumer/survivors” or “people with lived experience.”

The contest, as always, is blind-judged by a panel of three or four writers who are consumer/survivors themselves or personally connected through family or friendship. 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 download the entry form and our mailing address.

Good luck!

Ella Jane Myers

Editor, Open Minds Quarterly

NISA/Northern Initiative for Social Action

Contest Rules & Regulations

The contest is open only to consumers/survivors of mental health services* internationally. It aims to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness by showcasing the talents and creativity of individuals living with mental illness.

The contest opens Monday, January 1, 2018 and closes on Friday, March 9, 2018. All entries must be received before midnight on March 10, and payment must arrive with entry. Entries will not be returned. Eligible poems will be blind-judged by a consumer/family panel.

Poetry about the experience of mental illness 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 2018. 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 9, 2017;
  • 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;
  • 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 $12.00 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.