Mental Health, Social isolation, Community support and Empowerment

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Mental Health, Isolation, Community support and Empowerment

At AGL, We build communities from inside out, the inspiration that our hard working partners, other Agencies, self-help/women/youth groups, Volunteers and Activist groups are putting in, the many Canadians we have met during our journey across Metro -Vancouver and beyond are our roll models and we know we have more work to do to ensure that their efforts are rewarded as well as our own efforts.

Addiction and Mental Health issues- AGL provides support and referral services to those people in our community with mental health and or addiction concerns needing support.

We’ll start a tour with our outreach team on Hastings street, on our homeless families who are struggling with health and addiction issues that embodies the progress and values that make AGL so unique.  In the last five years, our Tule Pamoja feeding program has nearly doubled in size by partnering with the local community Organizations to embrace diversity.  Many languages are spoken when we share conversation English while sharing some African Ugali and brewed Chai and we say that diversity is a core of our community’s strength.

Our Out-Reach Response team to Mental Health and Addictions crisis is our engagement to hear the stories and share stories – we focus on social influences on health, this participation has enhanced our understanding of the complex ways in which race, racism, socioeconomic status, stress, health behaviors and religious involvement can affect physical and mental health.  The project is based on the recognition that people experiencing mental illness are not just patients, but also experts of their own health and well-being.   Historically, people with Mental Health problems lack a voice. Neither they nor their families have been involved in decision-making on mental health services, and they continue to be at risk of social exclusion and discrimination in all facets of life.  For us at AGL empowerment is the level of choice, influence and control that users of mental health services can exercise over events in their lives.  The key to empowerment is the removal of formal or informal barriers and the transformation of power relations between individuals, communities, services and governments.

Inclusiveness in the societies We lives is vital to the material, psychosocial, and political empowerment that underpins social well-being and equitable health.   Health being one of the fundamental human right, empowerment of patients, their families and friends or other informal careers is a societal task that encourages everyone to respect health and well-being of individuals, at the individual level, empowerment is an important element of human development. It is the process of taking control and responsibility for actions that have the intent and potential to lead to fulfilment of capacity. This incorporates four dimensions:

  1. self-reliance
  2. participation in decisions making
  3. dignity and respect
  4. Being, belonging, and contributing to a wider community
  5. Characteristics and qualities

To achieve the objectives of empowerment, some external conditions and internal qualities are important:

  • Hope and Respect – 1.  Hope is essential to growth, a hopeful person believes in the possibility of future, Change and improvements; without hope, making an effort can seem pointless.
  • Reclaiming one’s life – As part of the process of psychiatric diagnosis and treatment, users and their families have had their lives, their personal stories, transformed into case histories. Part of the empowerment process is therefore the reclaiming of these life stories. Similarly, the process of empowerment should include a reclaiming of one’s sense of competence, and recognition of the often hidden power relationships inherent in the treatment situation. In the early stages of participation through our English Conversation “raise Voices initiative, groups, for example, participants often tell one another their stories; both the act of telling and that of being listened to are important for these participants.
  • Feeling connected and Not feeling alone – Empowerment does not occur to the individual alone, but has to do with experiencing a sense of shared experience and connectedness with others.
  • Understanding that people have rights – Through understanding and knowing Human Rights, people increase their sense of strength and self-confidence, this normally seem to work for the oppressed and disadvantaged people, including racial and ethnic minorities, women, LGBTQ, people with disabilities and the At Risk youth
  • Learning skills that the individual defines as important – Health professionals sometimes complain that People with Mental challenges have poor skills and cannot seem to learn new ones. We learn that at the same time, the skills that professionals define as important are often not the ones that People with mental challenges find interesting or important. When we give them the opportunity to learn things that they want to learn, they often surprise even the professionals (and sometimes themselves) by being able to learn them well.
  • Moving from secrecy to transparency – People with devalued social status who can hide that fact often choose to do so, but this decision takes its toll in the form of decreased self-esteem and fear of discovery. Those who reach the point where they can reveal their identities as mental health service users display self-confidence.  It is also important that we too recognize and accept that mental health problems are a source of learning, growth, development that bring additional skills and qualities.
  • Growth and change that are never ending and self-initiated – Empowerment is not a destination, but a journey, no one reaches a final stage at which further growth and change are neither possible nor beneficial.
  1. Protection of the human rights’ service users and fighting stigma, racism and discrimination;
  2. Ensuring high-quality care and accountability of services;
  3. Having access to information and resources; and
  4. Inclusion in decision-making;

AGL looks to the future, investing in its emergency preparedness and response skills to face natural and man-made disaster emergencies like Earthquake, Hurricane, Floods, Droughts, wars, and others. It is energetically focused on disaster risk reduction – which means taking steps to lessen the harm done by repeated natural and man-made disasters within and out of our country.  We too forge for dialogue to prevent the conflicts which cause suffering, loss and works to transform active conflicts into peaceful settlements.

Social Isolation – Has often been described as a result from a lack of social ties or sense of being, belonging and continues to be linked to numerous physical and mental health issues. The effects and need to better prevent social isolation is being increasingly recognized by social service and health care providers.  We focus our efforts to prevent social isolation with the focus around seniors who are often identified as being at a higher risk for becoming socially isolated.  We identified a variety of issues that can result from seniors becoming socially isolated, which include:

  • Increased risk of chronic disease.
  • Disability or chronic disease.
  • Reduced self-care.
  • Decreased immunity and slow wound healing.
  • Premature death.
  • Poorer sleep efficiency and fatigue.
  • Abuse/Stress.
  • Loneliness, depression, other mental illnesses, and suicide.
  • Poor nutrition.
  • Psychosomatic illness.
  • Reduced well-being.
  • Quality of life.

A number of other population groups are often at a higher risk for becoming socially isolated. These include:

  • Immigrants and refugees; – Problem or issue: Bullying among youth is an enduring social issue that affects communities in BC and beyond.
    Despite numerous intervention programs by schools, governments and community groups over many decades, bullying continues to cause emotional and physical pain for many young people.  We gives young people a unique opportunity to workshop/dialogue, providing an educational program with a completely new and engaging way involving them directly in conversations about bullying.
  • Single parents;
  • New parents;
  • Unemployed; and
  • Individuals with disabilities
  • At Risk youth, young parents and homeless youth

At AGL we prevent social isolation with assurance that vulnerable groups and individuals are provided with opportunities to establish or strengthen social ties. In many cases, individuals may not be aware of these opportunities and or face barriers (e.g. language, cultural, financial) to become more integrated into the community.  We play a role in eliminating these barriers by offering supports, facilitating partnerships between program providers, and putting and emphasis on creating or supporting programs that are inclusive and welcoming