Changing the World of Mental Health
November 17th we introduced our community to Connections Place and to mental health leaders from Washington State and Richmond BC.
A huge thank you to everyone who made this possible: Hudson Mack for your wonderful talent of introductions and Board Member and Saanich Councillor Fred Haynes who outlined the need for this program to supplement what already exists and to help address the gaps.
Kailey Fiedler-Gohlke, ED from HERO House in Bellevue, Washington who explained there is nothing like a Clubhouse in the world - you instantly feel involved and have that sense of community. Kailey explained that employment is part of the Clubhouse International Standards and ensures that it provides members (who want employment) with organized and effective strategies for moving into employment and maintaining it. (Please see Kailey’s Power Point)
Kevin Morris, Member of Hero House did an awesome job explaining the important of the work ordered day: every member has a contribution to make – they are wanted, needed and expected. There is a sense of belonging – this is very powerful and does wonders for self esteem and confidence.
Larry Clum, Director of Community Mental Health Programs with Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission explained that mental health problems are so common – that we all have a role to play. Most devastating impact that he sees on the streets is isolation – it is very hard to overcome. 50% of the people his team sees has housing – it’s not just about the housing - it is about creating opportunity. Larry quoted Mother Teresa, ‘loneliness is the greatest poverty of all’. Larry also focused on the need to build Clubhouse partnerships in the community. (Please see Larry’s Power Point)
Mike Tibbles, Member of Pathways Clubhouse explained how he had challenges in high school but didn’t recognize this being a mental health issue. Mike has worked for London Drugs in Richmond starting out in sales that led to a management position in Human Resources. Five years ago problems occurred again and his case manager encouraged him to attend Pathways. He uses his skills to help members and staff at the Clubhouse. He recently participated with the steering committee on Coastal Health Authority’s Patient to Person Care in Mental Health and Addictions. He has noticed some real positive change in the approach of care in the clinical setting; patients and family are now very much involved and there is less stigma.
Dave MacDonald, Pathways ED explained how a having a Clubhouse in a community is a smart investment. The Clubhouse supports members (and employers too) getting back to work and once they are in their place of employment. Pathways provide mental health training to local organizations and participate in community
events such as the Salmon Festival. They also work with local schools to help educate students and break down the stigma that still surrounds mental illness. Justin Trudeau visited Pathways several years ago and Richmond’s MLA, Linda Reid is a big supporter of Pathways. The Vancouver Canucks donated a suite recently and the RCMP hold bbq’s for Pathway’s members. Bus stop ads have been donated to Pathways is another example of community partnerships. Dave stressed that Pathways is a community that creates opportunities for it’s members and the support fro the Richmond community is very significant.
Dave announced that Charity Intelligence released its 2016 IMPACT FUND of 10 Canadian Charities that makes a significant difference and Pathways Clubhouse in the only mental health organization and the only organization in BC that made the grade!
Jackie Powell, Chair of Connections Place Board explained that employment support is crucial. Individuals and families cannot do this on their own. Employers do not necessarily understand the needs of a person with a mental illness. Too many responsibilities can have a detrimental affect. Not only that but people leaving hospital must have options other than being told if they have a problem to return to the emergency department.
Audience participation: One person asked why couldn’t people continue to use what is already in the community – why is that not enough? Larry Clum explained that a Clubhouse is where real friendships naturally happen – this will never occur in a drop-in centre. A person in the audience explained that when you are not feeling well – travelling to one program and having all the services in one place would be much better when you are not feeling well. You do not have the strength and perseverance to travel to many doors and try to find out what is available when you are not well.
So you can see this is why Connections Place is working hard to ensure we have our very own Clubhouse International here in our own community. We know Clubhouse helps people with mental illness, their families, emergency services, hospitals, businesses, landlords – the list is long. Please join us in making a Connections Place a reality – we will be rebuilding lives, saving lives, giving back to our community and saving tax dollars!