Introducing… a mental health social worker

Introducing… a mental health social worker

Zeb Demaiter is a social worker in the Child and Youth Mental Health Program at McMaster Children’s Hospital. He has worked at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) for seven years.

Favourite colour: Green/ book: Flowers for Algernon/ vacation spot: the cottage/ music: whatever my kids are listening to these days – so right now, Turkey Rhubarb is my band/ animal: The Liger/ food: gourmet donuts/ holiday: Christmas!

Tell us about your first day at HHS.
On my first day at HHS I was greeted by a new co-worker with a warm hug and a sign welcoming me to my desk! This was the first of many expressions of the welcoming and inclusive environment that I work in at HHS. I often think of this moment as being representative of the type of place at which I’d like to work.

Child and Youth Mental Health, Faces of HHS., McMaster Children’s Hospital, mental health, social work, social worker, Zeb Demaiter

What do you love most about your job?
What I most love about my work is being given the opportunity to support young people and their families through some of the most challenging times in their life. Although this isn’t always a comfortable place to be, it inevitably is a place where movement towards change in the lives of the people with whom I work is most likely to happen. Helping people through this time of change is always a unique and challenging experience that keeps what I do feeling fresh and new every day.

“I find great satisfaction in trying to grow food wherever I can.”

What do you do after work to unwind?
I grew up in rural Southwestern Ontario and now live in urban Hamilton. So, probably because of my rural roots, I find great satisfaction in trying to grow food wherever I can. Now that spring is here I’m itching to get back into my garden and start a new crop of urban fruits and veggies!

Child and Youth Mental Health, Faces of HHS., McMaster Children’s Hospital, mental health, social work, social worker, Zeb DemaiterWhat do you eat to keep you energized at work?
I used to be known as the guy who’d eat anything at work, and probably still am a bit! Over the past few years I’ve been trying to make healthier and more balanced food choices and have found that his really impacts my energy at the office.

Tell us about your most gratifying experience at HHS.
One of the most gratifying moments in recent memory was when I was working with the father of a young person with whom he had been having difficulty speaking. The father was trying so hard to reach out to his child but having little effect in making a connection with him. Then, after some hard work on the parent’s part of thinking through what was getting in the way of him being able to speak with his son, the parent was able to leave our session with a renewed hope and some new skills that helped him feel like he might actually be able to create a change in his relationship with his child. Being able to witness these moments of change are truly inspiring and energizing events for me.


What’s one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?

I’m a soon to be father of 4! In October my family will, with lots of excitement, be welcoming a fourth child into our home. This growing family of mine has made the work I do with families so much more personal, and given me a whole new perspective on how challenging and rewarding parenting can be.