Community / Our Partners

Community Partners: Increasing Access to Mental Health Support and Services

Catherine St DenisGuest blogger Catherine St. Denis is Operations Manager for the Mood Disorders Association of British Columbia (MDABC), a community partner with the Adler School in Vancouver. She began volunteering with the MDABC as a support group facilitator about seven years ago, and later became a part-time writer and editor of the MDABC website and print materials prior to becoming Operations Manager. Catherine credits the MDABC with being exactly the kind of organization that can offer appropriate, timely mental health interventions that give people real hope of recovery and increased quality of life. As a parent of three adult children, two with severe mental illnesses, she understands mental illness from a number of perspectives and works hard to improve things for people from within the organization itself. 

The Mood Disorders Association of British Columbia (MDABC) offers people with mood disorders opportunities for increased mental health wellness in a non-stigmatizing and compassionate environment.

In 1982, the organization began supporting people with mood disorders through peer-led, self-help support groups. In 2009 our Psychiatric Urgent Care Program was created offering psychiatric assessments by quality doctors with follow-up care through patient Group Medical Visits. In December 2013 the MDABC expanded services by adding our Mental Health Wellness Centre offering Cognitive Behavioural skills groups and Saturday Wellness Workshops.

With the advent of our Mental Health Wellness Centre came our collaboration with the Adler School of Professional Psychology, and we could not be more pleased to form this partnership. The MDABC recognized the work being done by Adler students, and saw an opportunity for these students to get practicum experience offering their services to MDABC patients.

As well as collaborating with the Adler School in terms of offering practicum placements, the MDABC collaborated for the Adler School’s Community Action Day, when volunteers from both organizations met with people on Robson Street to talk about mental health stigma. The MDABC sees stigma as one of the biggest problems for people with mood disorders. Stigma keeps people from talking to their doctors about their symptoms, it keeps people from being properly diagnosed, and it keeps people from treatment.

Our Mental Health Wellness Centre has partnered with the Adler School to provide the School’s master’s and doctoral-level counselling and psychology students with opportunities to support patients living with a mental illness.  As the MDABC moves forward with the Adler School, we will offer psychological assessments, one-on-one counselling, and other therapy groups facilitated through these experienced, mature students.  This means that patients will have the benefit of increased access to mental health support and services. The MDABC is very pleased to offer these enhanced services, and we look forward to working more and more closely with the Adler School as we move forward.