Mental health recovery colleges set to double across Canada

March 09, 2020
Ontario Shores logo and CMHA logo

The Canadian Mental Health Association and Ontario Shores announce collaboration to bring promising U.K. model to 20 communities


The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores) are proud to announce a new collaboration to help support the expansion and creation of 20 new mental health and well-being learning centres—or “recovery colleges”—in the next year.

As leaders in the recovery college field in Canada, Ontario Shores and CMHA have opened a total of 12 centres in Canada over the past three years.

These free, welcoming in-person community learning centres are modeled after successful sites in the U.K., where more than 70 recovery colleges now educate the public on skills that promote good mental health and well-being, as well as recovery from mental illness.

“We are thrilled to partner with CMHA on this new initiative. Ontario Shores was the first mental health hospital in the world to implement a recovery college and we are excited to work with CMHA and other organizations across Canada to implement this valuable program so it is accessible to more Canadians,” says Karim Mamdani, President and CEO, Ontario Shores.

Recovery colleges offer free courses that are informative and interactive in a learning environment designed to promote and respect equity and diversity. There is a focus on bringing together the expertise of both mental health professionals and people with lived experience of mental illness or mental health problems to create and deliver courses and materials. The result is a supportive environment where people come together with friends, family members and health care providers to gain knowledge, learn new skills and explore new roles for themselves.

“These unique new learning centres focus on hope, empowerment, possibility and connection. CMHA has seen how this type of supportive and educational environment can help those impacted by mental illness find new hope and rebuild their lives,” says Margaret Eaton, National CEO, CMHA. “We are excited to work closely with Ontario Shores to share what we’ve learned and work together to bring more recovery colleges to those who need them.”

Together, CMHA and Ontario Shores will work with local CMHA branches, regions and divisions, and other mental health and community organizations to share best practices, encourage peer-to-peer collaboration and improve evaluation and information sharing across the country.

Together with subject matter experts, including individuals with lived experience, CMHA and Ontario Shores will develop and deliver a country-wide evaluation strategy, and a suite of tools and resources that meet international guidelines and best practices.

Ontario Shores has also implemented other recovery-based practices such as recovery measurement through Recovery Assessment Scale and Recovery Plans of Care.

Among 2018-19 recovery college students registered at the CMHA Calgary site last year, 98 per cent reported they felt a sense of belonging in their course.

“The recovery college is a welcoming environment,” says one recovery college student. “I don’t feel pressed, I can learn at my own pace. I am not competing with anyone. Courses are free but the changes they have helped me make are priceless.”

Ontario Shores and CMHA are working with interested parties to explore, mentor and support the planning of potential new centres across the Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Recovery colleges already in operation across Canada:

Ontario Shores Recovery College (Whitby, ON): www.ontarioshores.ca
CMHA Discovery College Kelowna (Kelowna, BC): www.discoverycollegekelowna.com
CMHA Recovery College Calgary (Calgary, AB): www.recoverycollegecalgary.ca
CMHA Recovery College Lethbridge (Lethbridge, AB): www.recoverycollegelethbridge.ca
CMHA Recovery College Edmonton (Edmonton, AB): www.recoverycollegeedmonton.ca
CMHA Recovery College Central Alberta (Red Deer, AB): www.recoverycollegecentralalberta.ca
CMHA Recovery College Wood Buffalo (Fort McMurray, AB):
www.recoverycollegewoodbuffalo.ca
H.O.P.E. Learning Centre (Regina, SK): www.sk.cmha.ca
Well-being Learning Centre (Winnipeg, MB): https://mbwpg.cmha.ca/programs-services/learning-centre/
Thrive Learning Centre (Portage La Prairie & Winkler, MB): central.cmha.ca/thrive    
HOPE Learning Centre (Swan Valley, MB): parkland.cmha.ca/programs-services/h-o-p-e-learning-centre/  
Recovery College Wellness Centre (Durham, ON): cmhadurham.ca/services/recovery-college-wellness-centre/

About the Canadian Mental Health Association
Founded in 1918, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is the most established, most extensive community mental health organization in Canada. Through a presence in more than 330 communities across every province and one territory, CMHA provides advocacy, programs and resources that help to prevent mental health problems and illnesses, support recovery and resilience, and enable all Canadians to flourish and thrive. For more information, visit www.cmha.ca

About Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences
Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores) is a leader in mental health care, providing a range of specialized assessment and treatment services for people living with complex mental illness. Patients benefit from a recovery-oriented environment of care, built on compassion, inspiration and hope. Ontario Shores engages in research, education and advocacy initiatives to advance the mental health care system.

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For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Andrea Marshall
Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences
Director, Communications, Volunteers and CEOD
905.430.4055 ext. 6581
905.439.0224
marshalla@ontarioshores.ca

Katherine Janson
National Director of Communications
Canadian Mental Health Association
(416) 646-5557 ext. 24923
(647) 717-8674
kjanson@cmha.ca