The Calgary branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has opened Alberta’s first recovery college. The recovery center offers over 40 courses in recovery and wellness. The courses are taught by peer support workers who have their own battles with mental health and recovery. It is free and open to the public, and is designed to provide readily available resources to those who need it.
“We know many people find it challenging to start that first conversation,” – CMHA executive director of the Calgary region, Laureen MacNeil.
The goal of this recovery college is to create a peer network environment. Individuals who are seeking advice or counselling can speak with staff who have gone through something similar. Having that foundation to build on can help individuals feel less isolated. It could also encourage them to open up about what they are experiencing. All of which can move people further along the road to recovery.
“We use the things that we’ve been through to empower other people,” she said. “If anyone is shy or is thinking about, I’m not sure if I should reach out, just come, or just give us a call — or just show up.” – Priscilla Cherry
Priscilla is one of the 16 trained support staff at the recovery college who has struggled through depression. She shares her story of becoming suicidal after being sexually abused as a child.
The CMHA ‘s Recovery College allows individuals to practice everyday skills that are not otherwise available in the regular universities or colleges. This college is expected, therefore, to offer a unique and much needed opportunity to gain essential coping and recovery skills.