Mental Illness Awareness Week
Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) is an annual national public education campaign designed to help open the eyes of Canadians to the reality of mental illness. One of the major initiatives is the Faces of Mental Illness campaign which features the stories of Canadians living in recovery from mental illness.
At Catholic Family Services of Simcoe County over 50% of clients seek services for mental illness concerns. Jeff, is one such client.
A year ago, living only to feed his addictions, Jeff had lost his business, his friends and family. Penniless, homeless, and with 20 years of despair behind him, he attempted suicide. Again. With a grimace, he calls that period his Excellent Adventure. A journey that “led down the road to hell and death.”
Another emergency room, another treatment centre, another round of counselling – all came and went with feelings of familiarity and resignation. But this time, before he left the centre, a counsellor referred him to a walk-in counselling clinic at Catholic Family Services Simcoe County – it was the first time he’d heard of the local agency. He didn’t yet know it would make all the difference. He walked into 20 Anne Street South in Barrie on a Wednesday without an appointment. He saw a counsellor the same day, and was easily able to access an additional eight sessions of professional and affordable counselling. During those hours, the dots were connected between a childhood sexual assault and his resulting behaviour. He learned where his feelings of unworthiness came from and his need to please others regardless of the cost to himself.
“I struggle to do justice to how beneficial that counselling was for me,” Jeff says, eager to share his life-changing experiences. “The impact of not dealing with those issues slowly became momentous. They had control over me before, but I had no idea. They don’t control me anymore.” Local addiction programs, including AA, have filled in the gaps and helped him stay clean and sober for a full year. But although there are challenges ahead, he now knows he’s not alone. “I’m not that naïve,” he acknowledges. “I don’t think eight sessions are going to fix everything, but I can go back for more. I’m truly blessed for this to happen now. Without it, I’d be dead.”
Over the last year, despair has turned to hope, joy and peace. Now Jeff looks forward to living. “I’m feeling happy. I can’t ever remember feeling like that. I never knew it existed.”
Visit our website www.cfssc.ca and click on Get Help Now for more information on the Walk-In Counselling Clinics.