Many Mental Health Services Available in Renfrew County

Eganville -- Approximately two dozen people attended a mental health forum at the Eganville & District Seniors’ Echo By Centre on October 23, featuring presentations from service providers throughout the county. The event, sponsored by the Eganville Rotary Club, was in direct competition with glorious fall Sunday weather which likely affected attendance.

Former executive director of the Phoenix Centre for Children and Families, Greg Lubimov, presented updates on mental health services within the county. He pointed out that COVID actually resulted in several positive changes in service delivery, co-ordination and cohesiveness among the many agencies who provide mental health services to children, youth and seniors. Currently, the waiting lists for care are among the lowest in the province. Contact: 1-800-465-1870.

Mr. Lubimov cited the new Ontario Health Team model as providing greatly improved access to information with better central intake and emphasis on ‘warm handovers’ between agencies which means that the agency will ensure that patients are directed to the correct service providers. The Phoenix Centre is the lead agency for the collective of 24 sectors serving the mental health needs within the county. He cited the need for more mental health professionals, better transportation systems and more awareness of the needs of the ‘remote rural’ areas of the county.

Monique Yashinskie, founder of the Robbie Dean Centre in Pembroke, explained that the pandemic was both a barrier and a blessing for the ten-year-old facility which provides preventative and short-term counselling with the goal of keeping people out of the crisis services. The centre was founded in response to the suicide of her son and relies on fundraising and personal donations. “We aren’t government funded so we can be very flexible and responsive to needs,” she said. As well as suicide assessment and prevention programs, the centre offers a Grief and Loss Program, a Personal Trauma Recovery Group, Anger Management Group and a Pet Loss Group. A Legacy Group for Seniors focuses on managing life for people over 55. “Groups are one of our greatest assets and greatest strengths,” she said. Contact: 613-629-4243

Allan Studd of Trinity Down Counselling in Eganville introduced the three students completing their master’s degrees under his clinical supervision and the programs they are facilitating. Rebecca Poff of Killaloe brings a 20 year career as a classroom teacher to her dream of becoming a psychotherapist and is a co-leader of a ‘walk and talk’ group in Shaw Woods. Other student led programming is aimed at understanding autism, using music as a meditative and mindfulness aid, and using theatre and improv techniques to reduce social anxiety. Contact: 613-628-3330.

KarKol Inspirational Consulting provides support for individuals living with chronic conditions. Consultant Susie Campbell offers pro-active support and education for all stages of the journey, including through chronic diseases. Contact: sjlettcampbell@hotmail.com

Bonnie Schryer of PLEO (Parents Lifeline of Eastern Ontario) began in 1999 and provides peer support for families whose children are facing mental health challenges. PLEO grew out of the interactions between three mothers whose children were inpatients at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO)’s psychiatric program who shared information and encouragement. PLEO is now a vital partner in a child and youth-focused model of health care in Eastern Ontario. Contact: 1-855-775-7005 or visit pleo.on.ca

The Eganville & District Seniors (EDS) offers “Links2Wellbeing” which offers ‘social prescribing’ to programs aimed at seniors and disabled residents of the area. Anyone can refer potential participants who could benefit from the social and recreational programs offered at no cost through the EDS. Contact: 613-628-2354

For more information on these and the many other mental health services available to residents of Renfrew County, visit www.accessmha.ca or call 911 for emergency help.

Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader