The first of its kind in western Canada and only the third of its kind in the country, CMHA Central Region is proud to partner with the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society (MSS) to launch a Recovery Education Centre this fall.
A recovery education centre, also known as a recovery college, provides an opportunity for anybody in the community to learn more about mental health, mental illness, and to learn new skills for living well. Considered emerging best-practice in the United Kingdom, a recovery education centre is modeled after a traditional college environment with a large set of courses for students to choose from in the areas of mental health literacy, illness self-management, health and wellbeing, and interpersonal skills among others. The goal of the centre is to assist students with identifying their own learning needs, develop individualized learning plans, and help students use new knowledge to take positive steps in their own recovery journey.
CMHA Central Region Executive Director comments on why a recovery education centre is needed in Portage la Prairie: “The concept of recovery – living a meaningful life beyond any mental health problem or illness – applies to everybody. We all have mental health and we all need to learn how to take care of it. A recovery education centre shifts us away from the mindset that therapy or medication is the only option for this – in fact it turns the traditional paradigm of mental health treatment on its head. Programs like this are an essential part of a full spectrum of mental health services that should be available in the region. It is accessible, person-driven, and focused on individual strengths rather than deficits.”
A core principle of a recovery education centre is that all courses are co-produced, meaning they are designed and delivered by someone with professional experience and personal experience of recovery from a mental illness. MSS Executive Director Chris Summerville comments on the power of lived experience: “Recovery colleges allow people with lived experience to share how they gained hope, recovery, and mental health. It also allows those with the skills to teach and mentor others who are just starting their recovery from mental illness and mental health problems.”
More details about the project will be announced over the coming months. A full course prospectus is set to be released by the end of summer with enrollment beginning shortly thereafter. Anybody can become a student at the centre, including people recovering from a mental health issue, family or caregivers, health care professionals, or community members who are interested in learning more about any of the topics included. All courses will be offered free of charge.
Friesen says that the key to making this project succeed is partnership. In addition to financial and advisory support from MSS, the project has also received funding from the Thomas Sill Foundation. In kind support will be provided by the Portage Learning and Literacy Centre and the Tupper Street Family Resource Centre. The site also serves as an advanced fieldwork placement for students completing their Master of Occupational Therapy degree from the University of Manitoba and has already hosted a student from the Brandon University Psychiatric Nursing program. CMHA Central remains open to partnering with other organizations and professionals to either develop or deliver courses for the centre.
The Canadian Mental Health Association – Central Region gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Community Foundation of Portage and District Inc. which is a public foundation serving the citizens of the City and Rural Municipality of Portage la Prairie. The Foundation builds permanently endowed funds and distributes the invested income annually. The income is used to provide grants to qualified charitable organizations spearheading community-building initiatives in diverse fields such as health care, education, arts and culture, environment and community services.