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Trauma and Addiction Program

In honour of Mental Health Awareness Week, The Ottawa Mission brings you stories of our dedicated mental health, trauma and addiction program staff who work tirelessly with clients to help them rebuild their lives.

Kelsey Severin is our Day Program Co-ordinator. The Day program and the HOPE are the foundational pillars of our Addiction and Trauma Services.

The Day Program is a drop-in harm reduction program for men with addictions from the community or the shelter system. There is no intake list: clients may show up and participate, and there is no endpoint or time limit on their participation. In addition to weekday groups, clients may attend counselling and other programming. It provides education about addiction and related issues, and helps participants gain new skills for changing behaviors. Clients may not be under the influence during group. The program’s admission and participation criteria make it low-barrier for clients.

Hope Program beds are available for Day Program participants and are secluded from the rest of the shelter, enhancing clients’ sense of security and community. Complete abstinence is not required, but clients may not be under the influence while in the Hope Program.

Kelsey has learned much from the clients she works with about addiction. “At the root of addiction is pain and trauma, and addiction develops as a way of coping with these original causes. Addiction, in turn, causes more suffering as our clients have lost their jobs, their families, their homes, and more.”

Kelsey works closely with all clients to meet their daily needs. “The Day program is client-driven: we use different methods to continually check in with clients about how they’re doing and what they need. We teach them about the impact of trauma, and work with them to develop mindfulness and awareness, stay in the present and not let the past control them.”

Kelsey has also learned about homelessness and the nature of community from her clients. “Homelessness can happen to anyone and everyone has a story that led them to our shelter. Our programs reduce isolation and provides a sense of safety and security for clients: they know that they are not alone. Clients create their own families through these programs, and they can face challenges as they move through the program and work toward leaving the shelter. For me, it’s a privilege to support our clients on this journey, and to have their backs along the way.”