Dealing with various forms of mental illness can often cause stress and isolation, which may lead to more health and mental problems for those already adjusting to a challenging situation. The Ripple Connection Support Centre (RCSC), a non-profit based in Barrhead, AB, has set out to give those with mental illness and their caregivers a place where they can share the trials and triumphs of living with serious, persistent mental illness.
On May 11, the centre hosted their Ripple House Rock event to raise money for member programs and facility utilities. As a ‘50s themed evening, the event featured a diner style buffet, prizes for the best 1950s costumes and a performance by Elvis tribute artist Adam Fitzpatrick. The sold out show raised almost $13,000 for the centre.
The RCSC was started by now Executive Director Joyce Sheren in 2010 as a mental illness caregivers support group. A fundraiser the next year was so fruitful that the group was inspired to broaden the services it could provide for the community. After volunteers helped rehab a permanent location, the centre opened in December 2011.
In 2012, Sheren told The Barrhead Leader, “We are a family here. It is a huge help for people who have gone through a similar experience to get together and socialize. They know they will find understanding here.” The centre works to promote life-management skills and education as well as face-to-face networking.
They now boast over 80 drop-in members, and while they don’t offer medical help, the centre has become a beacon of relief in many other ways. A free, daily hot lunch is provided and members can pick up food there for home preparation at up to 25 percent off retail through the We Can Food Basket Society.
Their members can also take part in a free caregiver support group, or paid sessions with a counsellor who specializes in family issues and conflict resolution. In addition, a 10 week education course for family and friends is offered a couple of times a year. The facilities give members access to computers and internet service, a library and an entertainment area, and make a variety of fun events and activities available, including karaoke, bingo, craft days and field trips.
Centre Assistant Director Darcy Lockhart says they advertised via word of mouth throughout the community, save the date flyers handed out at the Blue Suede Music Festival and Facebook. Lockhart says the key to getting the word out is to “advertise, advertise, advertise,” in order to let people know about your event as early and often as possible.