Currently, support groups are mainly located as per below, but always check specific event details as things do change:
IF YOU NEED EMERGENCY SUICIDE PREVENTION HELP OR ARE IN DANGER OF HURTING YOURSELF OR OTHERS, PLEASE:
Phone 911 if it is an emergency.
Go to the nearest hospital.
You must be an adult to join this group based on the laws pertaining to the province, state or place in the world you reside in. In Ontario, adults are currently legally anyone 18 years old or older.
WE ARE NOT A TREATMENT CENTER. WE ARE A PEER SUPPORT ORGANIZATION ONLY.
NOTHING WE DISCUSS HERE CAN BE CONSIDERED AS MEDICAL ADVICE. ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR.
DIRECTIONS for MONDAY NIGHT MEETINGS (NOTE DIFFERENT LOCATION FOR SUNDAY AFTERNOON MEETINGS- SEE THE EVENT DESCRIPTION FOR DETAILS): For TTC directions simply call TTC information at 416-481-2523, Daily, 8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. For those looking for parking you can find valid parking north or west of the hospital on the side streets but please watch the signs so that you don't get a ticket. We meet in the "Central Conference Dining Room". (1st floor, main hospital building) @ St. Joseph’s Health Centre at 30 The Queensway, M6R 1B5, (Toronto). Enter from the south side of the central portion of St. Joseph's Health Centre. If you like, ask for directions to the Central Conference Dining Room from the person behind the main information window. Basically, you walk straight north from the south-central entrance towards the gift shop, then make a right before the gift shop, then a few steps on your left you will see a double set of doors. Head north again through the double set of doors about ten steps on the right-hand side of the hallway is the entrance to our private meeting room. The facilitators usually try to get there early to set a large sign outside of the entrance that says "Mental Health Support Network".
NOTE: IF YOU HAVE JOINED THE GROUP FOR THE PURPOSE OF SELLING GOODS OR SERVICES TO OUR MEMBERS, KINDLY REMOVE YOURSELF FROM THE GROUP. CONTACT THE ORGANIZER DIRECTLY IF YOU FEEL THAT YOU HAVE SOMETHING SPECIAL THAT GROUP WILL REALLY BENEFIT FROM AND WE WILL REVIEW YOUR REQUEST WITH OTHER GROUP MEMBERS.
Goals of this Group:
1. BUILD COMMUNITY OF SUPPORT: A community of support for people who suffer from Mental Health "labels" and their loved ones. Reduce isolation, help each other, collaborate, reciprocate, replicate, grow, add new friends and supporters to your life.
2. BREAK DOWN BARRIERS: Stigmas, shame, discrimination, ignorance, lack of public understanding and acceptance are all negative barriers. Together we can start to break down these barriers.
3. DEVELOPMENT OF MORE EMPLOYMENT OPTIONS: Expand employment opportunities, explore your passions. Know your identity and your work is not the same. Collaborate to learn strategies to avoid discrimination and identify employers who are willing to hire people with our challenges and our gifts!
4. PROMOTE HOLISTIC APPROACH TO LIFE: Balance, leisure, exercise, healthy eating, humour, love, creativity, self-direction, self-discovery/exploration, emotional awareness and taking charge in your own personal growth are keys to a healthier, happier and more productive life.
Mission & Guiding Principles
“Peers helping peers”. The Mental Health Support Network is committed to building communities of reciprocity through compassionate and confidential peer support. We inspire and empower fellow peers to pursue a more balanced, healthier and happier life. For those with mental health "labels", challenges and/or gifts, MHSN is also open to friends and family of peer supporters.
OUR 13 GUIDING PRINCIPLES:
1. Non-Judgmental – We meet each other in private places such as St. Joes Health Centre and public places for social gathers. No matter what the venue we pledge to be non-judgmental towards each other.
2. Peer support – We come together as peers with similar experiences to help, nurture and support each other. We share knowledge, experience, coping strategies and emotional, social and practical help.
3. Reciprocity – We seek to build a community of reciprocity, where the synergy of strengths and resources allows us to rise up and overcome shared fears and challenges such as stigma, discrimination, stress and social anxiety.
4. Empowerment – We seek to empower ourselves and our community. Together, we harness the strength, courage, and motivation to improve our mental and emotional health and thus, the quality of our lives.
5. Social networking – Social networking fulfills an intrinsic human need to feel part of a community. We endeavor to offer camaraderie and friendship to each member of our peer group, especially in times of difficulty, concurrently reducing isolation and loneliness.
6. Anonymity/ confidentiality, compassion, and positive solidarity – We are a peer community that is rooted in respectful, compassionate and positive solidarity. What is shared in our community is confidential; notwithstanding the social support nature of our group, we are sensitized to and are respectful of each other’s need for privacy, boundaries and comfort levels.
7. Success in baby steps – Our illness need not imply a limited life where we seek to merely survive; we strive to be happy and successful, setting goals in order to realize our dreams.
8. Action - We endeavor to take action, get involved and make a difference. We listen, learn, encourage, get help, exercise, mentor, coach, counsel, volunteer, advocate, talk more about mental health issues and “labels”, and practice mental fitness and holistic healing (ex. meditation, naturopathy, yoga, meditation, spirituality).
9. Zero tolerance for abuse – We do our best to self-monitor our community, promoting zero tolerance for abuse in any way, shape or form.
10. Feedback – Feedback fuels our community. Moreover, we encourage ongoing learning and growth for all peers.
11. Mental fitness – We make every effort to achieve optimal mental health, recognizing that improved psychiatric symptoms result in decreased hospitalization, larger social support networks, and enhanced self-esteem and social functioning.
12. Inspire – We pledge to inspire each other and ourselves about overcoming our challenges and optimizing our gifts.
13. Time – We pledge to offer a little bit of time into the group whenever we can. We realize that whenever we help each other; we also help ourselves.
Mission & Guiding Principles: copyright March 9, 2011, by MHPSO and by MHSN (MentalHealthSupportNetwork.org)
A. Group Begins at 7:00 PM
Introduction by Facilitator Explanation of the group format and guidelines
Opening Exercises/Icebreakers: These include a brief introduction, sharing only as much as anyone is comfortable with. Other icebreakers can be centred around goals, expectations of the group, a quick check-in.
Orange Ball: We pass the ball around for a short “check-in.” Upon receiving it, we give our name and a brief introduction. You can share what brought you to the group, how you are doing, and if you’d like to and if it empowers you to do so, you can share a diagnostic label/diagnosis you’ve been given or identify with.
Reciprocity Card: We pass around a reciprocity card. There are two questions inside the card. The first question asks: “What do you want from the group?” For example, you can ask for honesty, feedback, understanding, information, or anything else that you want or need right now. The second question asks: “What can you give the group?” If you feel ready and up to it, you can share what you can offer to the group. Listening, friendship, participating, attention, and empathy are examples of gifts you can offer. You can also offer your own particular talents or skills that may be useful to others if you’d like. If you don’t think you have anything to offer to the group, remember that just being here and present to the group is a gift you are already giving.
3D Glasses (Big Picture): We pass the 3D glasses around to focus on the “Big Picture” or a large goal we have for ourselves and our lives. These are long-range goals, whatever your definition of a “long-range goal” is. What do you see and want for yourself in the future? This is an opportunity to think about the “big vision” you have for yourself, as far as you can see into the future. For some people, your big picture may only go as far as day by day or even hour by hour and that’s fine.
SMART goal/ (Smaller Goals) We pass around a “That Was Easy” button. This is an opportunity to share simpler goals that we can achieve in the short-term, that may or may not be easy for us. We keep in mind the SMART Goal Model for this exercise: think of a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time Sensitive. This goal could be a “baby-step” toward fulfilling your “big picture” goal, or it can be something unrelated that you’d like to get done. There are two parts to this exercise: 1. Share a goal that you’d like to achieve. 2. If it’s easy, press the Easy Button. If it’s not, don’t feel any pressure to press the button. Keep in mind that what may seem easy for one person may be incredibly difficult for another, depending on where they are at.
B. Break for 10-20 minutes
Opportunity to converse informally, network, get a coffee/tea or just relax.
C. Reconvene for Second Part of Meeting Open floor discussion: This is an opportunity to bring forward any concerns or questions you may have to the group. This is the time to share what you’re dealing with and to ask for feedback or help if you want it. As a group, we are here to listen and offer our own experiences and feedback if appropriate. We can offer only "Suggestions" and perspectives based on our own experience. It is up to each person to decide what they like and what they want to take with them.
D. Check-Out/Feedback at 9:20 PM Feedback/Check-Out Exercise: We go around the room and give everyone an opportunity to give feedback and a quick “check-out.” You can share what you got from the group, what you liked, what you didn’t like, and offer suggestions and/or give feedback as to how you improve the group.
E. Group Ends at 9:30 PM
Note: Journalists and Media producers seeking information/interviews from members is prohibited due to the preferred confidentiality of many of our members. HOWEVER, THE FOUNDER, ROBERT MAY BE WILLING TO BE INTERVIEWED BY CERTAIN MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS ( however Robert cannot and will not discuss confidential details or even the names of members without the written consent of the member).
RULES FOR MHSN MEETUP
1. Confidentiality – everything said at an MHSN Meetup is confidential, unless otherwise stated. Everything shared with you from another MHSN member both inside and outside of MHSN must be considered confidential unless otherwise stated by said individual. Additionally, no photos can be taken or recording devices of any kind can be used at our support meetings.
2. Non-Judgmental of others.
3. Listen - please avoid interrupting others - The facilitator(s) will do their best to "chair" the meeting. The goal is we each take a roughly equal share of time speaking.
4. Mindset: Come to serve and be served - The Golden Rule.
5. Everyone's voice counts! Democracy.
6. You are entitled to leave at any time, however, it would be helpful to know why you are leaving as the feedback helps us. It would also be helpful for you to let us know if you’re feeling safe when you leave.
7. No abuse to self or others. This would include talking behind people's backs about their personal challenges in their past, present or future. This also includes showing up. and with an offensive odor due to lack of hygiene; please respect yourself and the group by avoiding this.
8. Please, no graphic emotional stories in the group that can scar others minds. Instead, please talk to a therapist or someone you might meet at our group that is willing to talk to you one on one, knowing that your story could scar their mind.
9. Listen to other SUGGESTIONS at your own risk. DO NOT GIVE “ADVICE”. We can only give SUGGESTIONS.
10. NO SHARING OF ANY PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS. THIS IS ILLEGAL!
11. No sharing of videos, pictures, audio or any type of media that could be negatively triggering to other members.
12. Although we respect everyone's right to make their own decisions on religion and politics we ask you to please "park the need to discuss those beliefs at the door" for our support meetings. Politics and religion are not discussed at our support meetings.
13. If you are not someone with mental health challenges - what we call a "mental health peer", you can be asked to leave the group.
14. People who speak negatively about the good intentions of the MHSN organization may be asked to leave the organization. We encourage you to provide constructive feedback to group organizers.
15. Members or leaders who use the meetup messaging system for reasons other than to support the Mission, Principles, Values and Goals and spirit of MHSN may be removed without notice. If you feel the need to message a facilitator please ensure your message is about the group.
16. We love new volunteers! However, to have a LEADERSHIP role in areas of facilitation, event hosting or committee chairs, MHSN requires you to attend some MHSN groups and/or become familiar with the founder of MHSN and/or its board of directors before you can be approved as a leader.
Who should not join?
- Journalists and Media producers seeking information/interviews from members is prohibited due to the preferred confidentiality of many of our members. HOWEVER, THE FOUNDER, ROBERT MAY BE WILLING TO BE INTERVIEWED BY CERTAIN MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS ( however Robert cannot and will not discuss confidential details or even the names of members without the written consent of the member). - Research clinicians seeking test subjects
- Students researching mental health and seeking information/anecdotes
- Solicitors/investigators/doctors or psychiatrists seeking information or clients