Not Myself Today

Have you ever had one of  “those days” ? I think that we all have. Just one of those days when you feel “off”. I can remember, at the time of losing my mother, having quite a few of those days. I can remember sitting on the couch, just doing nothing and suddenly I would realise that hours had gone by. Luckily, with the encouragement of family and friend and with my own knowledge of mental health issues, I was able to address what turned out to be a depression, and move forward.

Many people  are not aware  that sometimes “those days” can be the beginning of something that can lead to a bigger problem.  This is why Partners For Mental Health has designed the Not Myself Today campaign. This is the first in a series of social campaigns designed to help make Canadians aware of mental health issues and get involved.The campaign launched on April 2, 2012 and ends with a national day of action on Monday April, 2012- today!

Here are some facts:

  • It is estimated that 1 in 5 people living in Canada will experience mental health problems or illnesses.
  • It is estimated that 500,000 people miss work each day in Canada due  to  mental health problems and illnesses.
  • People living with  mental health problems  and illnesses have high rates of unemployment, and many are unable to develop their skills and talents. This is particularly challenging for young adults, since the rates of mental health problems and illnesses reach their peak during prime working years.

Volunteer Victoria is one of several local organizations who are supporting this campaign by bringing attention to peoples’ mental health and well being. We want to help generate positive change in the stigma towards those struggling with mental health issues or illnesses.

The goal of  Partners For Mental is to “generate profound systemic and social  change so that people living with mental health issues or illnesses can get the support, services and treatment they need, when they need it.

Please consider taking a minute to take the pledge.Thank you!

Feeling Grateful for Volunteer Access

Hello! I am pleased to lend my name to the list of writers that have  been contributing to this fabulous blog. I run the Access program here at Volunteer Victoria and my intent is to periodically write posts about our unique service and how it fills a much needed niche in both the world of volunteerism and mental health wellness.

Funded by the Vancouver Island Health Authority, Volunteer Access has been a program of Volunteer Victoria since 1990.

We provide specialized services to individuals with mental health and / or addiction issues wishing to become engaged in volunteer work but requiring some support and /or direction to find the most successful placement.

In addition to our office at View St, Volunteer Access also has a weekly satellite office at The Victoria Mental Health Centre to provide clients with immediate opportunities toward their wellness plan.

We interview people to discuss strengths, interests and any limitations that may require accommodation. Once appropriate volunteer jobs are identified, applicants are given the contact information should they wish to take the next steps independently.

We  can also accompany people to the agency for their first interview and help with orientation and training if needed. Short term job coaching has proven to be a very useful tool in supporting both clients and volunteer coordinators.

Since Volunteer Victoria has a membership of over 280 non-profit agencies, there is a great selection of jobs to choose from. Access volunteers help out in kitchens, assist in care facilities, work in thrift stores, offices and gardens.

Recently we have helped people to gain volunteer positions in community centers, supporting the homeless, festivals, a radio station, Saturday markets and doing peer support. With nearly 1,000 jobs to choose from we assist people to find what is most interesting and suitable to them.

Living with a mental illness is undoubtedly a huge challenge. Whether someone manages a chronic problem or an acute episode, having this resource available for people to make a volunteer connection is so very valuable. Building new skills and becoming active in the community helps people to improve their confidence- it can be a very important step of the recovery process.

Recently while promoting the program at local mental health fair, I had a woman approach me. She asked a number of questions about our program and then shook her head with a sad smile. This woman has a daughter who lives in Vancouver and has schizophrenia. “My daughter could really use a program like this. She does nothing but stay in her apartment all day.” These poignant moments really help me to never take our program for granted.

For more information, to set up an interview or to arrange for a presentation at your location contact Lornna Olson at (250) 386-2269.

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