Today was a unique, interesting and most of all an educational experience as I had the opportunity to attend a presentation by Dave MacDonald and Andy Birch. Dave is the Executive Director for an organization called the Pathways Clubhouse in Richmond, BC, and Andy is a resident and mental health activist. The presentation was hosted and initiated by a new mental health advocacy group called Moms Like Us focusing on accommodating the mental health needs of their young adult children. Victoria’s well known City Counselor, Lisa Helps, hosted the presentation and did an excellent job of facilitating the program with ease.
Dave MacDonald is a genuine and sincere individual and you can easily tell that he cares deeply about Pathways Clubhouse; it is not just a job for him. Andy Birch is an individual with a great amount of courage and as he told his personal story, so much of what he said rang true to my own experiences. His bravery moved me to tears today as I know what it is like to share and break through the stigma to live an amazing life.
Do I think the Pathways Clubhouse model will work in Victoria?
Clubhouse International is an accredited program of psychosocial rehabilitation. It is an evidenced based program that is making its way into Victoria, BC. Its goal is to foster hope, dignity, and the ability to participate in the community for people living with a mental illness. The Clubhouse offers an array of support ranging from employment assistance, housing, a youth program, public education, mental health first aid, mental health library to a Bounce Back Program.
I am more than hopeful and inspired by this initiative as it is a straight-forward and cohesive model of mental health services intertwining a collaborative approach to wellness with staff and members. I am moved and inspired by the work being done at the Pathways Clubhouse in Richmond and the Bipolar Disorder Society of BC mirrors many aspects of the Clubhouse services. We know that peer support works and value the educational component of our programs. Victoria is a unique and giving community and I have no doubt that a great number of non-profit service providers and politicians will work together to ensure that a Pathways Clubhouse is a grand success. Victoria needs this initiative as there is a serious lack of mental health services for adults in the City and the Clubhouse would provide a much needed place of belonging for the people who need it most.
A Call to Action by the Inspired Bipolar Babe
I commit to assisting the Moms Like Us advocacy group in Victoria with their noble initiatives. I may offer many of my own skills such as my influence in the social media world locally, and my past employment experience in the BC Public Service mainly in the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation. I like to think I am fairly effective with the pen, and I can offer my connections and talents that may be of value if they need me to help them in any way. I understand what it is like to start small and eventually grow into a well-connected mental health force in the Victoria community. Today was evidence enough with a bustling room of supporters, politicians, and non-profit representatives attending the presentation that we as a community have the power to make this Clubhouse dream a reality and the Moms Like Us have gotten a fantastic start.
I am hopeful, curious, and very excited for the ‘path’ that lies ahead for the Pathways Clubhouse here in Victoria.
Let’s make this happen, let’s make history together.