The Recovery Transition Program is a self-sustaining, peer-based and volunteer-driven program that helps patients transition from clinical care provided by the MUHC Mental Health Mission to the community. Our objective is to improve the relationship between the individual and the system by creating an atmosphere of mutual learning and respect.
In the context of the Mission and Mandate, the individual refers to a patient, family member, clinician, social worker, etc. while the system refers to the hospital, the institution, the community and society at large. Peers and Peer Mentors are present or former patients of the Mental Health Mission. Peer Mentors have received special training provided by the Recovery Transition Program (RTP).
“Peer Mentors are the backbone of the Recovery Transition Program. They rely on their training and lived experience to help people who are dealing with mental health and/or addiction issues move into another phase of their lives.” Bernie S. (Peer Mentor)
“Connectivity, compassion and shared success is what makes peer mentoring vital to our program.” Cecelia V. (Peer Mentor)
An Improved Patient Experience will be realized in the MUHC Mental Health Mission by integrating a sustainable volunteer mentoring program into the system of care.
“At its heart, the RTP is founded on … a desire to improve the relationship between the individual … and the system. Our program of Peer Mentorship reflects an investment in the potential of the individual Peer Mentor to create individual relationships with peers, and thereby affect change in the overall patient experience in the MUHC Mental Health Mission.” Michael M. (Peer Mentor)
Self-sustainability will be achieved through extensive use of volunteers as well as organized fundraising to support paid positions for necessary staff.
Workshops will be created by peers for peers and/or family and supported by clinicians. These workshops will be evaluated regularly and will be designed to meet the changing needs of people who are ready to transition out of clinical care.
Resource and Information Centres at the Allan Memorial Institute and at the Griffith Edwards Centre will be staffed by Peer Mentors and volunteers who will provide support. These sites will offer access to computers, internet services and information on community resources. This guidance will empower the patient to pursue independent living, financial management, job search strategies and/or plans to return to school.
“In addition to education and self-management tools, learning from people with lived experience of mental illness and addiction offers the most important ingredients for sustainable recovery, which are connection and hope.” Dr. L. Beauclair (Program Champion) and Ronna Schwartz (RTP Co-lead)
A Website with information about the RTP’s programs and services, including the Resource and Information Centres, will be updated regularly and will post monthly activity schedules, fund-raising events, workshop proposals, referral forms, information on how to access RTP services and links to community resources, as well as testimonials, artwork and inspirational messages.
Confidentiality is respected among peers, Peer Mentors, volunteers and healthcare providers (unless there is a perceived threat of self-harm or harm to others). An agreement to this effect will be read, understood and signed by the Peer Mentors and volunteers.
A Written Code of Conduct has been created by Peer Mentors, incorporating principles from the MGH Volunteer Manual and the Peer Support Accreditation and Certification Canada (PSACC) Code of Conduct. It must be read, understood, signed and adhered to by the Peer Mentors and volunteers.
Without Duplicating Existing Resources or Programs already offered by the MUHC or in the community, the RTP will create new services as the need becomes apparent.
Ongoing Program Evaluation will be conducted by volunteers and salaried professionals.
Experiential knowledge will become a valued dimension in mental health care at the MUHC. A network of peers, some formally trained as mentors and others who are in different stages of recovery will support one another. Volunteers will run the two resource centres, (Allan Memorial Institute and Griffith Edwards Centre) maintain their information bases, recruit and train new peer mentors, update workshops, replenish supplies and ensure that the program runs effectively. Shared governance of the project, extensive collaboration among stakeholders and an overt expectation of individual success will form a framework of inclusion, acceptance, and hope. This will foster the greater empowerment of patients, clinicians, and families as they proceed through the process of recovery. We envision a future where pride replaces stigma, and recovery is attainable.
“Experiential knowledge will become a valued dimension in mental health care at the MUHC.” Ronna Schwartz (RTP Co-lead)
“A safe space where people… are accepted…can grow…can contribute. For both sites, I would envision a core group of volunteers who form the heart of the project. They would become a community. There would need to be someone in charge of this group, a leader who would have ready access to the support and collaboration of the Management Committee of the MUHC.” Jean E. (Volunteer)
Inclusion and Acceptance: The RTP prioritizes inclusion, demanding a community where patients, family and healthcare professionals work cooperatively to improve the quality of life, remove stigma, and minimize suffering.
“Inclusion is a priority, and others are accepted openly without stigma… and it’s a place where everyone can talk about mental health without fear of judgement. A community where users, family, friends and healthcare professionals work cooperatively for the betterment of all, and people no longer suffer alone, in silence.” Julia B. (Peer Mentor)
Shared Governance and extensive collaboration among stakeholders will improve overall communication and remove boundaries to success.
A Positive Community, where everyone understands that recovery is possible and it is believed that the community is strengthened by the individual, just as the individual is strengthened by the community.
“A community where everyone understands that recovery is possible.” Julia B. (Peer Mentor)
Recovery Oriented Principles are fundamental to seeing the patient recover, despite serious mental illness, with a new and valued sense of purpose. The principles of agency, empowerment, and responsibility are necessary to ensure the hope for and restoration of a meaningful life.
Empowerment: The patient is encouraged to realize a secure sense of self throughout the process of returning back to the community.
“Peer Mentors will… intentionally inspire self-empowerment, and offer hope of recovery and encourage informed decision-making using our own lived experience.” Julia B. (Peer Mentor)
Mutual Learning: Tacit knowledge can be turned into explicit knowledge which is valuable to health care providers. Through providing education and support to patients, families, providers, and students interested in novel ways of approaching recovery, mutual learning will lead to shared explorations and dialogue, generating new, creative solutions.
“Turning tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge that is valued by healthcare providers.” Robert G. (Volunteer)
“Patients will develop the ability to better communicate and adapt their experiences with mental illness and addiction to the outside world by drawing from the relationships they form with Peer Mentors. i.e. Through discussion, tacit knowledge will become implicit for patients as well, allowing them to better express and advocate for themselves in the community.” Michael M. (Peer Mentor)
Creativity is supported, celebrated and rewarded. It feeds the human spirit, nurtures the mind and solves real problems, both large and small, in everyday life.
Volunteering Benefits Everyone: The one who gives is also the one who receives. Volunteering is an important component in the RTP because by giving back to the program, peer mentors help to sustain its existence while strengthening their own recoveries.
“Healing through helping… individual success increases in value when it is shared with others.” Cecelia V. (Peer Mentor)