St. Joseph’s Regional Mental Health Care paves the road to recovery

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Recovery from a mental illness is a journey of healing and transformation and the path to recovery is unique for each client, explains Mary Gatt, registered nurse in the psychosis ambulatory care program at St. Joseph’s Health Care London’s Regional Mental Health Care (RMHC). “The overarching goal and philosophy of the recovery model of care is a treatment program which focuses on helping each client live a full and meaningful life,” says Gatt. “What this means for each client can be quite different and we work closely with them to identify goals and learn what is important to them on their journey to recovery.”

Because recovery in mental health care is not defined by the absence of the illness, as a client may always live with schizophrenia or be predisposed to periods of depression for example, recovery instead describes when through the management of the illness symptoms the client can experience the many facets of life including: friends and family, work/volunteer opportunities, playing a part in the community, taking part in educational opportunities, having a place to call home, etc. These are often milestones for someone with a mental illness and are healthy signs of recovery.

Read how two clients rediscovered life’s pleasures during their journey of recovery.

Harlin finds his way back

Harlin Braichet always excelled in school. Graduating from high school an Ontario Scholar, he was accepted into a highly-acclaimed music program in the U.S. He had many friends, enjoyed music and had a great relationship with his family.

In his second year of university, Harlin noticed changes. “I began having some very unusual ideas. I started thinking I was getting special messages from God and couldn’t understand what was happening to me.”

Believing he could solve his own problems, Harlin began isolating himself. He stopped going to class and spending time with friends. “My world fell apart! I was far from home and felt alone. I eventually came to the realization that I was loosing everything – my friends, my education, my dreams; my life as I knew it.”

Coming back home Harlin, was admitted to the hospital but his symptoms were difficult to treat. Eventually transferred to RMHC London, his recovery finally began, which he credits to his physician and “the compassionate staff who understood my illness.”

“Having this severe an illness unravels your thinking and dashes your confidence,” explains Harlin. “Thanks to the dedicated support of my mother and other family members, as well the quality care, support, and guidance I have received from the psychosis ambulatory care program at RMHC, I am back on a solid foundation.”

Harlin is now well equipped with knowledge and skills to manage day-to-day. “I now have a nice place to live, a great group of friends, and I date. My life is filled with the music I so love. I teach and play in a couple of bands and an orchestra. Life is finally good again.”

Robert’s journey

When Robert Losch was diagnosed 17 years ago with schizophrenia his world was falling apart. “I was frightened and didn’t know what was happening to me,” Robert explains, “my health was suffering and I had to leave a job that I had enjoyed for many years.”

Losch was referred to RMHC London, part of St. Joseph’s Health Care, London, where physicians and support staff helped him understand his illness.

In addition to specialized medical care, the vocational services offered by RMHC London have been invaluable to Robert. He began working at the Andrews Resource Centre on the grounds of the hospital, which provided him with skills he could use in the community. Robert now works as a custodian for a large business in London and volunteers in a senior’s residence.

“I feel happier when I am able to support myself and feel a part of something.”

Robert has follow-up appointments with a psychiatrist and nurse at RMHC London, as well as support from WOTCH Community Mental Health Services. His recovery wouldn’t be possible, he says, without the support of his family and his mental health-care team.

“They have always encouraged me to pursue my dreams and have helped me feel accepted and a part of the community again.”