By RYAN KING
PORT AUX BASQUES — Mental Illness Awareness Week ran from Oct. 3 to the 9. Organizations across the country raised awareness about mental illness and provided resources to help individuals address mental illness issues in their lives. One local organization that participated was the Gateway Women’s Centre in Port aux Basques.
“So for Mental Illness Awareness Week itself, of course, we don’t have any in-person events at this time because of COVID, and our center is by appointment only,” said Director Megan Bateman. “We are open for appointments.”
The centre has a variety of resources on hand for area residents.
“We do lay counselling essentially, and for any reason at all you can come in – even if it’s just to have a cup of tea and just be around some friendly faces and being in a safe non-judgmental environment,” said Bateman. “So if for any reason you’re experiencing any difficulty in your life, from being in an unhealthy relationship, to struggling with mental health or addiction. Anything at all you can think of, we are here for you.”
While no one at the centre is a registered counsellor, the staff are there to listen and offer resources.
“We are not licensed counsellors. I am a social worker, but other than that our staff mostly come from perspective of different, you know, educational, and career backgrounds, and lived experience. But we are here for any kind of, I would say more informal support. So like people who come in may also be in touch with a counsellor through Western Health, or a social worker through Child and Family Services, or whatever the case may be. But we help in terms of hearing people, helping direct them in the direction of the proper channels they may be looking for, like helping people access legal aid, helping people again with their personal care product needs, and just being a listening ear and someone that they can talk to in the moment.”
While residents may come to the centre during crisis moments, it is not a crisis centre, but rather a resource centre.
“We don’t do crisis counselling or anything like that,” said Bateman. “But we are knowledgeable, and we are able to help. And if there’s something that we can’t help with necessarily, we point folks in the right direction.”
Bateman noted that ‘peer support’ might be a better term to describe the service Gateway offers. The centre also offers a confidential lending library, which provides literature on mental illness and other issues, like relationship trauma, gender-based violence, and addiction. The centre also offers a personal care program, providing essential items that are also key to mental wellbeing.
“Monthly you can come in and get whatever your personal care (and) households are – like we have dish soap, laundry soap, body wash, shampoo; things like that. And our personal care specialists and outreach coordinator also has a different literature that can be put in our personal care bags to send out to folks.”
There is also information about the Willow House.
“Willow House is a transitional house that is in Corner Brook, so that’s pretty much our closest, say, shelter or transitional house that we work really closely with. And if somebody had to leave an abusive situation, for example, an emergency situation, or were under-housed and needed emergency housing – whatever the case may be – we can help you get in touch with Willow House, and also help coordinate transportation and everything to get you to Willow House. So that’s something that we do offer for clients as well, who may be in a situation where they need that.”
The centre also provides information on a variety of other available resources, like the 211 helpline, or the DoorWays service that provides rapid access to mental health and addictions counselling.
“For example if they come in for an appointment with us, and we think that they have additional needs, that they may want to see someone else, we are able to help them get in touch with the proper channels that might help their more specific needs. So we do help clients navigate the other systems as well, beyond our scope.”
Those who wish to avail of the services at the Gateway Women’s Centre can reach them through multiple channels, including via email at email@example.com.
“We do take messages on Facebook. So a lot of people choose to contact us that way,” said Bateman. “We also can be reached by phone at 695-7505.”