The past couple of years has marked a critical time for mental health and a need to access mental health support services. When the pandemic hit in 2020, L’Éveil de Brome-Missisquoi, an organization established in 1995 to offers socio-professional and educational integration services for people 16 years and older living with psychological or emotional distress, continued to offer its services despite having to quickly to adapt to a new situation. Fast forward two years later, L’Éveil de Brome-Missisquoi is still making a difference and is encouraging Townshippers to reach out when they are in need.
“It’s really important, especially for the Anglophone community. We have been around for almost 30 years, since 1995, but we are still not well known. It’s too bad people don’t know there is a mental health case worker that can help you for free at our offices or the homes if you don’t have a car,” said Tim Wisdom, Director at L’Éveil.
L’Éveil offers both individual and group sessions to support individuals in their recovery process by helping them find the means to reintegrate into society through set goals and projects.
“Our main mission with individual follow ups is to focus on the future. We are not therapists. If someone needs a psychologist, it’s important that they do get that help, but here we are focused on what’s going on right now and what’s going to happen in the future. Everyone can do something, whether it’s volunteering at the SPCA, working, going back to school, as long as they have a project they can come to L’Éveil which actually translates to I can and I will.”
For those who don’t necessarily have a goal, the case worker steps in to help go through the process of figuring out what they want for themselves. “We will help them find the goal too. As long as they want to talk about their future.”
Once people grow more comfortable in their recovery, many choose to take part in the group workshops that are offered with different topics and themes each week and guests, such as pharmacists and nurses, participating at times to provide key pieces of information for the clientele. “Sometimes, the workshop will just be to understand schizophrenia and the emotional side of it or forgiveness, love, friendship and different themes like that. We talk about subjects close to everyone and we know how important that is for recovery.”
While they are now doing some workshops in person, at the beginning of the pandemic everything shifted online, but that did not affect the important role they played in people’s recovery. “We had to slow down on that because of Covid, but people started to get better without us. They started a walking club by themselves, we are proud of them too. There are some real life-long friendships made here and they are just as important as the professionals on my team that help people get better.”
More recently, L’Éveil has launched a new service where they do once a month at home follow-ups. The service is supported by the CIUSSS de l’Estrie – CHUS who are investing $70,000 each year for the next ten years for the service. “It really is a maintenance of mental health. We visit the home every month and maybe they already did their work with the psychologist and they are feeling better, they have the right medication, they are stable, and they just need a case worker to visit them to make sure things are okay. We talk about money, budgets, and relationships.”
While the group is lucky to rarely have a waitlist, it has seen an increase in demand for its services, which also includes proving support to students at Brome-Missisquoi Campus, since the pandemic. “We are getting a lot less references from some partners whose offices may be closed or whatever, but people are asking for help on our Facebook page and are begging for help through social media. They are coming to our website and clicking the ask for help link; people do need help and they are suffering,” Wisdom said.
While Wisdom has witnessed first-hand the difference their work makes, he explained that a lot of people wait to ask for help, particularly English speakers in the region, until it’s too late. “Don’t wait if you need help in mental health. There is a difference between French and English speakers because they think everything will be in French, they won’t get heard, or they went and asked for help but the secretary didn’t speak English; it does happen. My message is don’t wait too long to ask for it help because it gets worse. We are here to help you. The whole team here speaks English and the services are available to you.”
For more information on L’Éveil de Brome-Missisquoi, visit http://eveilcowansville.com/en/