Supports in the Community – Mental Health at the Mall

August 02, 2018

St. Joseph's Health Centre first opened its doors in March of 2007. Operated by St. Joseph's Care Group, and offering mental health outpatient programming, it marked a turning point where clients could access supports in the community - inside a shopping mall - rather than in institutional settings. Now, 10 years later, Health Centre South is an expansion that brings even more programs and supports to one easy-to-access location.

Health Centre South is home to programs including Peer Connections, Employment Options, and the Team Werks Co-operative which, had been located inside Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital.

Kristine Quaid, a long-time volunteer and Peer Connections Lead, noted that having a space inside a shopping centre has distinct advantages because it's far removed from the institutional settings of the past.  "We want everyone to feel welcome in our space, free from judgment or stigma, and take advantage of the supports that we offer," said Quaid.   "I am very proud to be a part of the Peer Connections program, where people living with addictions and mental health issues receive support from trained volunteers who have experienced similar issues." 

Janet Sillman, Vice President of Addictions & Mental Health with St. Joseph's Care Group, reflects on how St. Joseph's Health Centre has become a part of this vibrant community.  "We didn't want to build a traditional standalone health centre, especially when so many of our programs and services focus on integration."  That is especially important for people who no longer need the more intensive supports of inpatient care, but need the right services closer to home whether it be counselling, help finding work or housing, or making new social connections to live well in the community.

St. Joseph's Care Group offers a spectrum of services to meet people where they are in their health care journey, as well as providing education and services to the region.  "When you are living with addiction or mental illness, navigating care should never be a barrier," said Tracy Buckler, President  & CEO of St. Joseph's Care Group.  "St. Joseph's Health Centre answers the question 'and then what' when the illness is managed, and people are ready to get back into the social and community activities that feed the spirit."   

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