Volunteers sought to help others COPE
by Lisha Van Nieuwenhove
Mental health and wellness is slowly emerging from the shadows of “things not talked about,” and this growing awareness is creating a demand for mental health support workers and volunteers. Community Care Durham is experiencing this demand firsthand in its COPE Program. The COPE (Creating Opportunities for Personal Excellence) Mental Health Program in Brock, Scugog and Uxbridge is urgently looking for volunteers to help facilitate a variety of support groups. Among these are groups which address depression, anxiety, coping and wellness, and social recreation.
As COPE Manager Kathleen Wells, explains, “COPE relies on the good will of volunteers to keep our mental health programs running. Thankfully, the stigma around mental illness is slowly dissipating, but that means the need for mental health supports and volunteers is rising.”
The COPE Program is a free service which supports anyone 16 and older who has emotional and/or mental health concerns. With the support of volunteers, COPE clients are able to learn, develop, and maintain skills while improving ways to cope and manage.
In a call for volunteers, Community Care Durham asks: “Do you have a passion for mental health? Are you a good listener? If you are a compassionate, patient and outgoing person who gets along well with others, this is a great opportunity for you!”
It goes on to explain that volunteers work together to provide a safe, supportive environment where clients can have open discussion, and receive emotional support and coping skills to help them through everyday living. An extensive mandatory 12-week training program in “Mental Health Fundamentals and Group Facilitation” is offered only three times a year on Thursday evenings, and the next round of training begins in early April. Community Care Durham asks that volunteers be able to dedicate themselves to at least a one-year commitment.
“This ‘people helping people’ concept is most rewarding and life-changing for everyone involved,” says Wells. “Nothing compares to the feeling of being a volunteer at a time when the need is so real. Our volunteers provide a truly invaluable service to our client.”
Community Care Durham is dedicated to supporting more than 12,000 adult clients and their caregivers, with needs relating to aging, physical and/or mental health. It provides a broad range of services that support clients’ independence, health and quality of life. It also helps people live in their own homes and in their own communities.
To apply for the next round of training in April, visit communitycaredurham.on.ca/volunteer/