Boosting Mental Wellness in Community
What’s Needed in Community
Mental wellness is critical to good health at every stage of life. The World Health Organization has defined mental health as a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can live productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their own community. A challenge for community then, is the reality that older adults experience unique physical, psychological and social changes that individually and together may challenge their mental health, sometimes resulting in mental illness. Older adults also face stigma and ageism, with seniors reporting interactions with other people who assume they are incapable of some decisions or activities because of assumed memory or physical impairments. They also talk about being ignored or not taken seriously because of their age, even in plans that are about their quality of life.
What We Are Doing
Partners are undertaking a comprehensive approach to mental wellness with greater emphasis on community-based services that promote good mental health, navigating resources, and earlier interventions and supports in social services. We are also promoting the important role of seniors and elders to share their wisdom as leaders and volunteers in community life. Activities we have supported to enhance mental wellness and reduce stigma include:
Thrive Learning Centre
Enhancing the efforts of CMHA of the South Okanagan Similkameen to provide mental health workshops for seniors and family caregivers, such as Mental Health First Aid and Living Life to the Full.
Supporting the Stroke Navigator Program that offers non-medical, community support to assist stroke survivors and their caregivers to find their way in the complex care system and adjusting to life after stroke. This project of the South Okanagan Similkameen Brain Injury Society includes Penticton Heads Up, a peer support group that connects on a weekly basis and plays an important role in stroke recovery and preventing social isolation and loneliness.
Grief & Loss Supports
Increasing the services of the South Okanagan Loss Society to offer individual and group counselling to seniors and caregivers who are seeking support with their experience of grief and loss. The work also includes the Life Transitions program that helps people cope and move forward with their experience of supporting a family member or friend with a life-changing diagnosis.
Supporting an outreach worker with the Ooknakane Friendship Centre to offer one-to-one social supports for elders in our community.
Enhancing the volunteer program of the Penticton Seniors Drop In Centre that ensures local seniors can share their wisdom, skills and passions with others. The society’s volunteers provide peers with opportunities for meaningful social connections while engaging in recreation, learning and social clubs.
Launching a new art therapy project that is being jointly developed by the South Okanagan Loss Society and the Penticton & District Community Arts Council so participants can explore grief through creative expression with a trained art therapist.