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January 30th marks a special day in the efforts to destigmatize mental illness and more importantly create awareness that it’s ok to talk about it. Bell’s #LetsTalk day is aimed at speaking up and understanding that talking about our mental health is an important first step towards lasting change.

People who come to The Ottawa Mission for help are already dealing with the stigma of being homeless. It can be overwhelming for them to ask for help with mental health issues when they first arrive at the shelter. Our staff members see people dealing with a wide spectrum of mental health issues – from depression and anxiety to some of the less common, serious illnesses like schizophrenia.

We are grateful to have two community partners that help us provide mental health care to our shelter residents – the Royal Ottawa Hospital and the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Jordanna Marchand is The Mission’s full-time Coordinator of Mental Health Services. “Because of the diversity of people and needs at The Ottawa Mission, it’s imperative that we establish working partnerships with agencies that have expertise in mental health support,” says Jordanna. “We strive to help shelter residents navigate through whatever crisis they are in and to help them feel valued, respected and understood throughout the process.”

The Mission has a full time CMHA worker in the shelter connecting with people with complex needs and helping them receive the support and assistance they require to be able to live healthier, more independent lives. As well, thanks to our partnership with the Royal Ottawa Hospital Outreach team there is now a part-time psychiatric nurse in the shelter twice a week. Last year, 80 people at The Mission were referred to the ROH Outreach program.

Thank you to our partners and to all who lend their support in some way to helping people in need at The Ottawa Mission. Let’s all join Bell’s #LetsTalk day and have a conversation about mental health.