October 05, 2018

Mental Illness Awareness Week: Why I work for the Mission

As we progress through Mental Health Awareness Week, The Ottawa Mission is proud to bring you our second instalment of stories concerning our amazing mental health, trauma and addiction program services and staff who work in partnership with our clients to meet their goals.

Laura Robinson is the Assistant Manager of Assistant Manager of Addiction and Trauma Services and works within The Mission’s LifeHouse, a five-month intensive residential addiction and trauma treatment program that includes group sessions, relapse prevention, anxiety management, spirituality and individual counselling.

When we developed our new Strategic Plan three years ago, we were guided by the underlying need to introduce new programs and enhance existing ones, with the ultimate goal of helping people in our care achieve wellness — in mind, body and soul. To that end, the Mission undertook the relocation of Lifehouse.

The Mission has operated a residential addiction treatment program since the 1980s. Recently, we have placed more emphasis on the root causes of addiction — which almost always involve past trauma — and on enhancing services to allow residents the best chance of success. To do so, we hired professionals who are experts in treating trauma and made the decision to move LifeHouse to a facility away from the shelter — to an environment that is more conducive to long-term healing. This massive undertaking included an investment of $2.5M to purchase and refurbish a new home for LifeHouse.

“Since opening LifeHouse’s new doors in 2017, we have increased evening and weekend activities. Having trained addictions staff available around the clock means that residents are getting the best possible care. With more space available, we have also expanded services. Two new therapy groups have been added to help men understand the effects of addictive substances and how to create a healthy and sustainable lifestyle,” Laura notes.

“Our success rates with residents in the past year are encouraging: Our capacity increased from 11 to 13 beds, and the number of client relapses decreased by three from the previous year. Twenty-seven men graduated from LifeHouse in 2017-2018,” Laura adds.

LifeHouse’s effectiveness in meeting the needs of our clients is noted by Wayne, a former resident of LifeHouse “As soon as I went to the building on Albert Street for my LifeHouse assessment, I felt right at home. LifeHouse was a home for me and in a way it still is. The Mission is like a home for me and it has gotten me through all this. I know it’s my own drive and my own push that has gotten me this far, but the support has been very important…. The house is very clean and very warm. Everyone does an awesome job with the chores and taking care of it. I hadn’t felt home in a long, long time. I would recommend this program to anyone.”