Opinion: The greatest gift for a person with mental illness: Time for recovery and transition

This is a time of year when we celebrate the good things in our lives and reflect on what makes them possible. At Coast Mental Health, we have much to be grateful for as we continue to extend support and services to the 4,000-plus clients we serve who are recovering from mental illness. These clients include a handful of youth who have been part of our first year of operations at Renfrew House, a six-bed community home in a quiet Vancouver neighbourhood.

Renfrew House opened in November 2014. We purposely chose a location in a quiet area of East Vancouver, far from the chaos of downtown and away from the challenges of its street scene. It offers services exclusively to youth who have been served by Providence Healthcare’s Inner City Youth program (and its many partners) and who are now ready to move forward in their recovery in a substance-free environment. Coast staff at Renfrew House work in a close partnership with Inner City Youth to support the youths’ recovery.

At Renfrew House, that support comes in the form of a psycho-social rehabilitation program. Psycho-social rehabilitation promotes personal recovery and teaches clients how to integrate successfully within their communities. The rehabilitation model is used successfully at all Coast’s sites, including those we currently operate at Riverview. Staff work collaboratively with the youth, allowing them to direct their recovery in an individualized manner. We help them identify their strengths and needs and teach them basic skills like cooking, cleaning and how to take care of themselves. They take part in mental health groups and also receive support with their medications. Thanks to Inner City Youth’s involvement, the youth also have access to an array of clinical services including a visiting psychiatrist twice a week. These are priceless gifts.

Darrel Burnham writes.

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