MARYSTOWN, N.L. – Mental health workers have a new ally to support the needs of residents of the Burin Peninsula.
CHANNAL (Consumer’s Health Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador) has expanded their services to the Burin Peninsula.
“There’s been a lot of struggles and a lot of loss in the Burin area over the past year or year and a half,” said Mike Herrell, project manager mental health services.
“A number of people from the communities have come forward looking for more support…”
He added that Eastern Health has helped eliminate wait times for people looking to access mental health services on the Burin Peninsula by allowing people to see mental health workers without the need for an appointment.
However, “There was a huge need for other supports in the community that could work alongside of ‘Doorways’ to provide support outside of regular office hours and some peer support.”
Herrell explained local mental health advocate Jimmy Bonnell was instrumental in getting the CHANNAL location in Marystown.
“He was doing a lot of work himself over the past year and a half, supporting people, especially young people in the area who were struggling,” he explained. “He started a support group with his own money to support people, and they were desperate looking for support and with his own lived experience, could relate to what that feels like and help make a very positive change in the region.”
The local office, which is located at 1B Harris Drive in the town’s industrial park, currently offers support groups, but Herrell said in the future they are looking to expand the service to offer one-on-one peer support.
“It takes about two years to become a full-fledged peer supporter, to get all your testing in and all your courses in, plus your hours,” said Herrell.
“But it will mean that people will have options of having one-on-one peer support, along with their clinical support.”
He added Bonnell will also work alongside Eastern Health to help people and families get connected with the services they need.
“Often when you go through that process it can be difficult, and having somebody that’s been there – has got the lived experience and has gone through it – can often make that process a whole lot easier.”