Sunday, May 25, 2014

Moms like Us

Dear Saanich South,

After years of painfully watching children fall through the cracks in our so-called mental health system in BC, a group of Victoria mothers are advocating for a new approach.

Last week, a group called Moms Like Us hosted an over-flowing meeting about an intriguing new model for community-based mental-health supports.

Moms Like Us invited the Executive Director of Richmond BC's Pathways Clubhouse for a presentation about this ground-breaking organization.

"Clubhouses" offer residences and supportive services to people with mental health challenges. Despite the title of "clubhouse" these facilities are about much more than fun: they offer a structured and safe place with a focus on transitional employment programs and support to help members access the mental health services they need, where such programs exist.

A key part of a clubhouse is that members work alongside staff to run the facility. Anyone who has every suffered from a mental illness can become a member. The staff are all generalists and duties revolve between staff and members - this creates a stimulating and challenging environment for members.

Pathways Clubhouse participated in a Charity Intelligence Canada study to learn about the Societal Return on Investment (SROI) of this non-profit organization. The presenters shared that the result was Pathways created a $14 SROI from every dollar invested by funders and donations.

As a part of a worldwide network operating under the accreditation body of Clubhouse International, Pathways has partnered with the Canada Mental Health Association to create a clubhouse in Richmond.

The presentation was very well received by all in attendance, including both federally and provincially elected officials, representatives from police forces, local government, advocacy groups and - of course - moms and dads. Check out what the bi-polar babe had to say about it too!

The group looks forward to moving ahead with the discussion about how Victoria can create its own accredited clubhouse to better support Islanders living with mental illness towards autonomous and productive futures.

In the words of one of the organizers, "We are not doing this work for our children only. We are doing this for the children who do not have moms like us to help them."

Indeed - we will all benefit from Moms like these.

I'm very excited at the potential of this model and I want to thank and congratulate Moms like Us for bringing this concept to Victoria.

If you would like to get involved or find out more, email