BC Schizophrenia Society Newsletter January 2016


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British Columbia Schizophrenia Society
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BC Schizophrenia Society Newsletter

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Strengthening Families Together – First Nations Edition

The BC Schizophrenia Society is continuously working to build partnerships and to better understand what information Aboriginal families need in order to cope with the challenges of supportin`g a loved one who is living with a mental illness. We have adopted “Our Story – Our Journey – Our Strength” as our project theme. We feel it effectively represents the family process when loving and supporting a person living with a mental illness and our need to be heard, to learn more, and to move forward with hope.

Our Story

Our personal stories are the fabric of who we are, where we come from, and how we walk in this world. Everyone has a story to tell, and families living with mental illness are no exception. When shared, our stories provide us with the opportunity to understand, learn, and grow together. The Strengthening Families Together First Nations program provides families a culturally safe and caring place of hope, learning and sharing.

Our Journey

Many people can get lost in the choppy waters of mental illness. The journey is often long and lonely. The Strengthening Families Together First Nations program provides an opportunity for families to walk together seeking support, guidance and understanding. The program helps families gather information about mental illnesses, share personal experiences and challenges, and learn to cope. Together our stories can be heard. Our journeys become easier. Together we grow stronger.

Our Strength

The Strengthening Families Together First Nations program is family centered, founded in the belief that experienced family members are best suited to guide and support other families in their healing. Our trained facilitators are family members who have lived experience, wisdom, and knowledge to share. They too are walking this path to wellness.

The 10 session program provides information on the symptoms and treatment of mental illness, working with the health and justice systems, advocating for ill family members, addictions and concurrent disorders, etc. Our aim is to make the program more relevant and responsive for First Nations communities across the province.

The first phase of the project is now completed. We have worked with community representatives and reviewed the curriculum and program delivery with the support of an advisory team, primarily from the :lō Nation. Additionally, we have produced two DVDs specifically for an Aboriginal audience. One DVD is for promotion and awareness to the general public, narrated by Lawrence Roberts. The other DVD, Adria’s Story, is a resource for the curriculum and is narrated by Adria Roberts. The promotional video can be viewed here.

As First Nations families are introduced to the Strengthening Families Together First Nations project, there is an overall feeling of thankfulness and relief that is being shared. Family members of people with a mental illness, community members, Band staff and Council members, are showing their support for families who sometimes live in isolation, with minimal resources available.  There is a respectful dialogue being created, with collective intentions to alleviate stigma and discrimination, and move forward to provide family education and support. BCSS staff are invited into a humbling experience, in which cultural sensitivity, including storytelling, is the foundation for family healing. We are learning a cultural approach to family education and support. We believe we can embrace the power of all cultures, all languages, and all communities, to lead families into a healthy new way of being. Collectively, we can help to heal our confusion, frustration, isolation and loneliness as we move towards a better understanding of the complex issues surrounding mental illnesses.

For more information of the Strengthening Families Together First Nations project, feel free to contact our project coordinator Cindy Savage at csavage@nullbcss.org.

Shelagh Dwyer Memorial

http://ak-cache.legacy.net/legacy/images/Cobrands/VancouverSun/Photos/1249321_A_20160102.jpgOn December 21, 2015, the BC Schizophrenia Society sadly lost one of its long-time members and supporters. Shelagh Dwyer, who had served as president of the Vancouver Branch, passed away at the St. James Cottage Hospice in Vancouver at the age of 74.

Shelagh took over the running of the Vancouver branch during a period of difficult change and uncertainty within the Vancouver/Coastal health care system. Her strength of purpose and resolute effort helped the Vancouver branch to re-group and be able to provide first-class education sessions for Vancouver families struggling with mental illness. Shelagh also successfully organized the Family Conference at UBC on behalf of the BC Schizophrenia Society. This packed, high-profile conference gave hundreds of family members an opportunity to meet others and learn important information about coping with mental illness. In 2007, the BC Schizophrenia Society recognized Shelagh for her work with the Lucy Waters Leadership Award.

Shelagh is survived by her partner, Ken Nielsen, her children, Sean and Sinead, and a loving group of family and friends. She lived her life with style and grace and touched the hearts of everyone who knew her. She was kind, loving and gracious to her family and friends. Her wicked sense of humour never deserted her even in the worst of circumstances. This strong, remarkable and generous woman touched the lives of many people. Shelagh will be remembered with fondness and gratitude by the BC Schizophrenia Society Board, staff, volunteers, and members.

Otsuka Funding

http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140212_C9848_PHOTO_EN_36665.jpgThe Otsuka-Lundbeck Partnership has once again found an innovative way to support those with serious mental illnesses in Canada. They developed the “SayYes2Me” scholarship by partnering with the Schizophrenia Society of Canada (SSC). BC was to be awarded six scholarships of the 45 available across Canada. We were shocked to find that BC had the second highest number of applications, slightly less than Quebec. When SSC went back to Otsuka-Lundbeck to provide the provincial number breakdown, the decision was to redistribute the available scholarships. As a result, BC was awarded 12 scholarships. You can imagine how excited we were at Provincial Office! A day after that decision, Otsuka-Lundbeck contacted SSC and increased the funding, to support all 20 applicants in BC!

We are elated for the people entering or returning to their post-secondary studies. BCSS has contacted all of the fortunate recipients and will be creating a press release to announce the winners on a broader scale. On behalf of the BC Board of Directors and all of us at the Provincial Office – Congratulations!

Scholarship Winner Julie Motz Shares Her Gratitude

“Thank-you so much to the schizophrenia society and all those kind souls who know someone, or are someone coping with a schizophrenia spectrum disorder. My words simply cannot express my gratitude for this scholarship, but I will try. I am currently a student in my fourth year of psychiatric nursing, and having this recognition is verification of my passion for helping others with similar experiences.

When I was 19 years of age, I was suddenly swept up in a stormy wave of an unexpected diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder. But with the kind efforts of my loving family and compassionate healthcare professionals I was able to navigate my way through this stormy period in my life and am all the better for it. I want people out there to know that obstacles exist for the purpose of being overcome. Throughout this all I have learned that it’s okay to lean on others because in times when you may not have the heart to endure, there is always someone out their willing to lend you their own.”

Must Have Resources for Families

A crisis resulting from an episode of psychosis cannot necessarily be prevented but there are steps family and friends can take to be prepared. Recognizing warning signs such as aggressive or threatening behaviour and being alert to potential triggers, such as stressful situations or going off medications, are important first steps. You can learn about risk factors, warning sings, communication tips, and how to create a crisis plan here.

Research, Resources and Media

Some links to articles about schizophrenia research, resources or articles about schizophrenia in the news.

If this email was forwarded to you, you can sign up for your own copy of future editions at www.bcss.org

British Columbia Schizophrenia Society Provincial Office
Email:prov@nullbcss.org Phone: 604.270.7841 Toll Free: 1.888.888.0029



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