From total isolation to connection: our resilient youth
“I guess I’m beginning to understand what it’s all about here. Everyone has their own stuff going on, and there’s no judgement, just patience. I might actually feel safe here.”
Clubhouse youth program participant
The pandemic heavily impacted Coast Mental Health’s youth programs. Our young clients felt isolated, and frightened to leave their homes for fear of catching COVID-19. But thanks to your steady support , and the resilience of our youth, we are rebuilding hope together.
“From total isolation to being able to connect with others over art, food, games and outings. We are seeing strong connections, even friendships developing between members.” says Jolene Hammermeister, Program Coordinator for the Young Adult Program.
New ways to reach out
Coast Mental Health offers a range of supports that meet clients where they are on their personal road to recovery. For young adults, we offer several specialized programs that link them to a network of supports for their recovery, while connecting to their peers. Our Clubhouse offers multiple services in one place. Youth who drop in to get a meal, have a shower, or do their laundry can also build relationships with support workers. In turn staff can can help connect the young adults to housing, education and employment.
The pandemic began with a three month shutdown to the Clubhouse. With it came major changes to programming to comply with public health directives for Covid-19. Our young clients were destabilized and scared.
There are a number of young members who will still not access programming due to anxieties and concerns over the pandemic. Some have never left their homes in over a year. Thanks to the support of donors like you, the team at Coast has been able to find new ways to reach out and help.
“He had not eaten in four days”
The pandemic shifted many of our programs’ focus to ensuring vulnerable clients had access to food and social supports.
One staff member shared this story:
“A new member who had been referred from two community partners came in and began accessing services. He was in a very precarious living situation and had no money. He does not receive any source of income assistance and picks up odd jobs here and there to try to make ends meet. We provided him with a lunch card for the day.
“I went into the dining room later and saw this member eating his lunch – he was shaking and smiling and shoving the food into his mouth. After lunch, I asked him if he had any food at home. He told me he had not eaten in four days. We were able to provide him with a grocery card so he could pick up groceries on his way home. He was so grateful. This member continues to come in any days he is not working, participates and socializes with others, and has never once asked for anything else.”
For members focused on goal planning, Coast helps them with accessing education and supported employment applications, as well as income assistance.
“We have seen a significant upturn in members finding employment over the past few months, all of whom have accessed the program for supports in getting there.” shares Jolene. Thanks to donors like you, our Peer Support program was also able to take an agile approach.
“At the moment our peer support workers are meeting with two clients in a one-to-one capacity outside to go for walks and chat over coffee.” explains a staff member . “Interactions of this sort that encourage connection and collaboration can mean the world of difference to someone struggling with their mental health.”
On an adventure together
New experiences are key to building a young person’s confidence. Every week Young Adult program members can enjoy an excursion by bus to a place outside the city.
On a trip to Deep Cove, one member shared that it was the first time she had been out of the city in two years. Another participant shared: “I am able to feel comfortable and confident in working on my mental health in a safe place. I can explore my inner child that has been hidden for a long time and no one judges me.”
Communicating through art
Projects that encourage connection and collaboration can make a positive difference to someone struggling with their mental health. Our Rabble Rousers youth group aims to help young people share their experiences and raise awareness about mental health in the community. These young people are in a stage of their recovery where they are ready to express themselves and show the world a glimpse into their experience.
This is often through art projects. The response from their community validates that what they have experienced, and what they have to say matters.
“This validation has lasting impact that these young adults will take with them for many years to come.” says Jolene.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the Rabble Rousers comforted each other with weekly Zoom meetings. They checked in with friends, hung out, and read children’s stories to cheer themselves up. When they couldn’t meet for regular meals as per the usual program, they turned those extra funds into an opportunity to create a beautiful community mural project.
One participant said:
“I love that we can just come here and be creative and send a positive message to other people.”
With your help, our young clients are finding their way through the pandemic together.
Read more about the impact of your support in Coast Mental Health Foundation’s 2020/2021 Gratitude Report.