Exploring the possibilities one project at a time!
MICA PROJECT OFFICE
Welcome to MICA’s project office. Here, you can learn about who we are and what we do, including information about ongoing and completed projects MICA supports. “To learn more from our project team join the discussion” Some Context As caregivers, we struggle with a range of emotions—from fear, grief, and desperation, to the hope and courage that enables us to go forward despite the many challenges we face. For many of us, caring for a loved one with a mental illness is a life-long journey that begins with the onset and diagnosis of a mental illness and continues as we do whatever is possible to ensure positive treatment outcomes and recovery. We do what we can to better understand the illness and soon learn that it is not only about the diagnosis, but also about the changes that diagnosis will bring to our loved one, the rest of our family, and ourselves. Your family member is now set on a different path that will lead to significant and often unexpected obstacles that can be both painful and life altering. You remember them as they were before the illness and your first response is to do whatever it takes to support them in achieving their potential while allowing them to choose their own way. It may take some time, but most of us come to realize there is no easy fix and, with that realization, there is often a sense of hopelessness. As difficult as it may seem, however, it can also mark a turning point that compels us as caregivers to reflect on what is important and to focus on the possibilities, rather than on the illness. The Mental Illness Caregivers Association MICA is an association of caregivers who have come together to help other caregivers see those possibilities by doing what we can to ensure they are aware of and can access the resources available to provide support and lifelong care for their loved ones living with mental illness. Our intent is to do so one project at a time as we identify gaps and narrow them by developing and implementing caregiver-driven solutions that will have a lasting and positive impact on the quality of life for them and those they care for.
MICA reached out to Ottawa Public Health (OPH) about a gap in resources for caregivers of individuals living with mental illness or experiencing mental health challenges. With our support, OPH partnered with the national offices of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA), and Military Family Services (MFS) to develop a national resource for Canadian caregivers of children, youth, adults, and older adults facing these issues. The result was the Mental Health Caregiver Guide.“Some comments from our project team regarding the Mental Health Caregiver Guide as a tool kit and framework for caregivers.”
The guide’s practical tools, tips and information are useful to mental illness caregivers as they deal with uncertainty about how to support their loved one while tending to their own well-being. The guide provides a framework for developing healthy coping mechanisms and resilience and is a first step towards realizing that we share a common bond that brings us together as a community - the guide is available on the Ottawa Public Health website.
The Lifetime Networks Pilot Project was launched as a joint venture with Citizen Advocacy. It considered potential modifications to the existing Citizen Advocacy Lifetime Networks program by creating a network through which caregivers could support each other while establishing lasting intentional relationships with their family member living with mental illness.
The pilot project provided a unique opportunity to focus on supporting family members in achieving their potential while also exploring opportunities for caregivers to support each other. “Some Lessons learned along the way!”
We learned along the way that sharing our lived experiences, our concerns, our successes and our disappointments with others is also the first step in developing a sense of belonging to a community of people who are prepared to support each other. The result was a shared strength and confidence to support our family members as they continued along their path to recovery in a way that allowed them to realize their potential in their own way in a context that has changed supported by relationships that remain the same.
Join our discussion on projects currently being supported by MICA, starting with our initiative focused on the employment of persons living with mental illness
We believe that a significant part of the journey to a healthy and fulfilling life for people living with mental illness is contributing to their community. That includes having access to and fully participating in the labour market. To that end, we have embarked on several employment-related initiatives that we hope will help our loved ones build their confidence and realize their full potential. Our objective is to ensure that employers are not only aware of the potential of this important cohort of talent, but are also able support them in refining their in-house tools and processes to accommodate them.
We have shared ideas with other organization and are piloting new initiatives. For example, MICA is working with the Centre for Workforce Development in Belleville, in tandem with local small businesses, to pilot a simple user guide that assists employers planning to recruit, hire and retain persons living with a mental illness.
These efforts have just begun, but we know from our working groups that there is room and a burning need to improve employment opportunities for people living with mental illness. We don’t have all the answers yet but, through these critical partnerships, we know we can make a difference.
Take a few moments to listen to the messages shared by our partners at Centre For Workforce Development
THE ART MARKET
Meet our project team planning for our Art Market this fall
Last year, in collaboration with artists in our community, MICA collaborated with In the Wind Art Collective and the Creative Café to host an art market that brought together artists who share a passion for the arts with artists in our community who also live with mental illness. Everyone enjoyed the evening of art, music and poetry so much we decided to host a second Art Market this fall. However, because of the restrictions imposed in response to COVID-19, this year’s Art Market will be a virtual event.
Our intent is to provide a venue for artisans to share their creativity with others while supporting our efforts to bring caregivers and their loved ones living with mental illness together with others from their community wanting to take a moment to enjoy themselves.
Take a few moments to enjoy two singers from the Creative Café as they entertain us with a song or two – both are looking forward to entertaining visitors to our Art Market planned for this fall!
Exploring Housing Options
EXPLORING OPTIONS FOR CAREGIVERS SEEKING HOUSING SOLUTIONS FOR THEIR LOVED ONE LIVING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS
Based on a case study of one couple’s experience planning for the future needs of their children living with mental illness, MICA plans to establish a resource centre that will support caregivers to plan for the future and ensure the continued physical and mental health well-being of their family members. The resource centre will support caregivers to help their loved ones transition to independent living and, based on the experience of their family members during the transition period, develop long-term housing solutions. It will also provide the person living with mental illness with trusted, natural supports after the caregiver is gone or is no longer able to provide the required care to ensure continuity of access to trusted and reliable advice, guidance and support related to housing concerns, from property management to personal supports.
Take a few moments to listen to the messages shared by Martha Beach of Developmental Services Ontario
Lets get in touch. Send us a message:
19 Colonnade Road, P.O. Box 5065, Ottawa, ON, K2G 4V8, canada
Phone: (613) 860-7800
Hours: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm EST