CANADIAN MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION - COWICHAN VALLEY BRANCH /

Registered Name: CANADIAN MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION, COWICHAN VALLEY BRANCH 1992

Business Number: 139905772RR0001

Serving the mental health needs of the Cowichan Valley.

The Cowichan Valley Branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association focusses on the right and needs of persons involved in the mental health system.

The strength of our organization is in its people. We treat all people with respect, honesty and trust, and seek every opportunity to preserve human dignity through equality, fairness, and respecting freedom of choice. The primary focus of this organization, are the rights and needs of persons involved in the mental health system.

Our Mission:

As the nation-wide leader and champion for mental health, CMHA facilitates access to the resources people require to maintain and improve mental health and community integration, build resilience, and support recovery from mental illness and addiction.

Our Key Values and Principles:

  • Embracing the voice of people with mental health and addiction issues
  • Promoting inclusion
  • Working collaboratively
  • Influencing the social determinants of health (e.g. housing, justice)
  • Focusing on the mental health needs of all age groups
  • Using evidence to inform our work
  • Being transparent and accountable

The CMHA-Cowichan Valley Branch operates over 30 programs. A few of these include:

Warmland House Shelter:

The shelter was designed to be a gateway to stable housing and integrated, client focused support services to adult (19+) men and women who are coping with a variety of challenges such as mental illness, addiction and chronic health conditions.

Warmland House is a three-story residential facility with 30 shelter beds, 24 apartments, a common-room, kitchen, dining room and offices. Breakfast and dinner is served daily in the dining room. Laundry and shower facilities are also provided. Weekly nurse practitioners are on site Monday afternoons and a Foot Clinic is held the third Tuesday of each month.

BC Housing allows Warmland to initiate an ‘Extreme Weather Response Program’ during periods of winter weather which threaten the health and safety of homeless individuals. During these times, an additional 15 beds are made available. Typically, this programs runs from November through March.

Overdose Prevention Site:

The Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) in Duncan, BC, was established in September 2017 as an Emergency Response to the current and ongoing Opioid crisis in British Columbia.

The OPS is a staffed supervised injection site where people who use substances are encouraged to use safely, with clean supplies, in a supervised environment with staff trained to respond to and prevent overdose.

At the OPS people who use substances are provided with harm reduction supplies, and Take Home Naloxone Kits if requested.

Between September 2017 and January 31, 2020, 54,529 visits were logged at the site. During these visits there were 337 overdoses. All overdoses were reversed and there were no resulting deaths.

The Duncan OPS is open 365 days per year from 1:00pm - 7:00pm daily.

BikeWorks/Artworks:

One of the CMHA-Cowichan Valley Branch’s youth programs is a familiar Trunk Road landmark that has been operating for 15 years. BikeWorks is one of the CMHA’s most successful outreach and resiliency programs. Humble looking from the street, the inside of this site is nothing short of impressive. Here, amidst the evident years of creativity and connections youth find a space to explore artistic activities and learn to fix and build bikes while finding belonging and acceptance from staff and fellow participants. BikeWorks has become a safe space for many in the community. The guiding philosophy of the shop comes from Martin Brokenleg’s Circle of Courage. Martin Brokenleg believes that there are four things that all people need to live healthy lives: Belonging, Generosity, Mastery and Independence. Through BikeWorks, a community is built that crosses economic, racial, age and gang lines.

This youth centre disguised as a bike shop also runs an ArtWorks program enabling youth to participate in a variety of creative individual and group projects.

Providing these critical “communicative spaces” is often the first step in helping youth to escape the spirals of addiction, poverty and homelessness. For many young people, being able to build and earn a free bike and have access to free arts and crafts activities are valuable additions to their lives. On any given afternoon, the site is buzzing with after school activity. Free snacks and small meals are often served during program hours and this brings in young families. In this way, the shop also functions as an anti-poverty initiative.

The Open Door Youth Services Centre:

When CMHA Open Door staff arrive at 371 Festubert Street’s Open Door Integrated Youth Services Centre in the morning, they often find a young person, sometimes two, sleeping in the entranceway. Staff gently wake the sleeping youth and welcome them inside. Once inside they are offered a warm drink and a something to eat. 

According to ‘A Way Home’ a national coalition dedicated to preventing, reducing and ending youth homelessness in Canada, over 40% of youth were younger than 16 the first time they experienced homelessness.

Every night in the Cowichan Valley the experience of homelessness is a reality for many including youth. Whether it be couch-surfing, sleeping outdoors, or feeling unstable in their current situation. Although shelter housing is available for adults at Warmland Shelter or at the new Women’s Shelter, there are currently no shelter services for youth under 19.

The Open Door Integrated Youth Services Centre is a newly formed extension of the Canadian Mental Health Association's Youth Outreach Engagement Program (YOEP). The Open Door is a space where youth ages 12-24 can connect with staff over a coffee and a snack, do their laundry, have a shower, get clothing and access to medical care and counselling services.  Close partnerships with other community agencies such as Island Health’s Discovery Addiction Services, allow YOEP staff to provide support by connecting youth with long term, ongoing resources not currently offered at the Open Door.

No matter what brings someone through the door, they are always met with caring and welcoming staff eager to offer support in whatever form is needed. It is hoped that the Open Door will prove to be as supportive and meaningful service in its fixed location model as the YOEP has been in its mobile capacity.

This program is currently open for drop in from 8am – 12pm Tuesdays and Thursdays. It is also accessible at others times throughout the week with the assistance of the YOEP.

A Nurse Practitioner is available on Tuesday mornings and an Outreach Nurse is available Thursday mornings.

Other programs offered by the CMHA Cowichan Valley Branch include:

Bounceback for Adults: Bounce Back® teaches effective skills to help adults overcome early symptoms of depression, and improve their mental health. Participants learn skills to help combat unhelpful thinking, manage worry and anxiety, and become more active and assertive.

Bounceback for Youth: For youth aged 15-18 years, with anxiety and mild to moderate depression. The Bounce Back® program has adapted the workbooks so that they are youth focused and help individuals to “bounce back” from low mood, stress and anxiety.

Rainbows Program: a support group program for children and youth who have suffered a significant loss in their lives, either by death, divorce or any other painful transition. 

Youth Outreach Engagement Program: The teams provide homeless youth access to services, nourishment, social connectivity and empathy. Whether it is taking someone for a coffee, providing critical support or simply listening, Youth Outreach Workers are often the only friendly face at-risk youth encounter in their daily lives.

Family Capacity Program: support parents through a process of skill building in areas of consistency, structure and communication to enhance healthy relationships with their children. 

Sexual Abuse Intervention Program: for children and youth up to age 19 who have experienced sexual assault and/or abuse. The program also provides services to children up to age 12 with sexually intrusive behaviours. 

Homeless Outreach Program: provides homeless adults not staying at the shelter with access to services, nourishment, social connectivity, empathy and connection to supports.

Sobering and Assessment Centre: Commonly known as SAC, provides six emergency beds for those who are too intoxicated to find services elsewhere, have no-where else to go. Clients vitals are monitored and they are given a safe place to sleep. It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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