Merritt Clubhouse offers mental health solutions

By Robert McAlaster, contributor.

SSometimes the world can seem a little scary.

We have been besieged by floods, fires and other various natural disasters across our province. Globally, political tensions are rising. Moreover, through all of this, our society has been forced to endure one of the worst pandemics since the so-called “Spanish Flu” of 1918.

Given all of this, it has become all too easy to overlook the state of our mental health, whatever essential role it plays in our daily lives. According to Statistics Canada, symptoms of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder have increased sharply (21% of respondents in 2020 compared to 25% in 2021) among Canadians aged 18 and over.

With this in mind, the Merritt Clubhouse (an affiliate of the Canadian Mental Health Association of Kamloops) would like to remind residents that they are not alone.

“Especially since the flood and all these people have been evacuated, we just wanted to highlight a few of our services, so people are aware.” Merritt CMHA program coordinator Sheena Christian relayed to the Herald last week.

“We offer a variety of programs within the Clubhouse. We follow a model of psychosocial rehabilitation and offer programs in the areas of recreation, health and well-being, professional support and personal education. Chretien continued.

According to Christian and Christa Haywood-Farmer (CMHA-Kamloops Manager of Community & Vocational Integration), The Clubhouse currently works with approximately 20 members in the Merritt community. Considering Merritt’s population (some sources estimate as many as 7,139 individuals), this number of members may seem low. However, the reason for low turnout, such as the one mentioned, is not a mystery.

“There’s so much stigma around mental health and mental illness,” Haywood-Farmer explained. “Often people don’t want to access [our services] because they don’t want others to know that they are accessing a service for people with mental health issues.

“I think the main thing for us that we would like [people who may be dealing with mental illness] to know is that there is [are] services and programs […] for those in need, in Merritt,” Christian explained. “[One] program we offer is “Rebound”. It is a free, virtual, remote program that individuals can access if they receive a referral from their doctor.

The program, which according to the ACSM, “has been shown to be effective in halving symptoms of depression and anxiety,” offers two forms of assistance. “An educational video and a series of personalized notebooks with 4 to 6 coaching sessions by phone.”

In addition to the Bounce Back program, other services are also available, Christian explained, such as applying for consumer facilitation funding. Funding, which is not income-based, can “go toward costs associated with transportation, education, or health-related costs. So if they need dental or optical care, like people need glasses. Something like that. So health-related costs, as well as the things they do to help support their mental health and well-being.

Individuals wishing to take advantage of the programs through the Clubhouse or any other ACSM affiliate must be referred by their physician or other qualified healthcare professional. Further information about the programs and services discussed in this article can be found online (www.kamloops.cmha.bc.ca), by phone (250-280-3753) or in person at 1988 Nicola Avenue, Merritt, BC . In addition to these contact methods, people in need of assistance can call the Crisis Help Line at 1-888-353-2273. The helpline is run by trained community volunteers and support staff, operating 24/7 without a doctor’s referral.

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