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Offering empathy and a network of support


Basil is a life-long student—both in the classroom, and as he continues to learn from his own mental health journey in order to help others.

Basil left Canada in 2007 to pursue a PhD in Family Studies and Human Development in Arizona. After living there for a few years, his underlying depression and new diagnosis of PTSD became more debilitating, and he decided to return home for a fresh start.

His mental health continued to suffer when he couldn’t find employment. Without a job, Basil was unable to afford the supports he needed to manage his mental health.

That’s where United Way came in.

United Way East Ontario believes that every person in Prescott-Russell, Ottawa, Lanark County and Renfrew County deserve access to the mental health support they need, when they need it.

With support from United Way, our partner Psychiatric Survivors of Ottawa (PSO) is able to offer accessible, safe, non-judgmental peer support programs so people like Basil can build strength and resilience along their mental health journey.

Using lived experience to help others

Basil completed PSO’s “Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP)” and “Pathways to Recovery” programs that gave him the skills he needed to manage his mental health on an ongoing basis, and that taught him strategies to plan for his future—focusing on mental wellness.

Basil is now part of a peer support network, using his skills to help others find mental health stability.

“Peer support is a lifelong way of being, based on empathy, support and leveraging strengths. We can, as we say, “sit with you” along your journey of recovery. We tell each other that, you know, ‘we see you, I hear you and you’re not alone.’”

Timely, appropriate support

In Canada, one in five people struggle with their mental health. Counselling is reported as the greatest local need, but it is also the least likely to be met.

United Way works to ensure mental health supports like 24/7 crisis lines, one-on-one and group counselling, as well as peer support groups are available in our communities so people can keep moving forward with their lives.

Mental health stigma often keeps people from seeking help. When a person is ready to take that step, it’s important that someone is there to listen and provide effective, professional guidance. With the support of our donors, we can help local people find the support they need.

“There was a time when I felt like a useless waste of space, and I don’t feel like that here. PSO really gives people hope. With the help of United Way, I was able to take WRAP and Pathways to Recovery for free, and that was a lifesaver for me.”




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