Events celebrate Mental Health Week

Centennial Place focuses on mental wellness, not mental illness

Since launching two years ago, Centennial Place has built a sense of community for people living with mental illness, and is celebrating this week’s Mental Health Week with a variety of activities.

The member-run drop-in centre provides a space to learn new skills and socialize in an open and accepting environment. Its daily visits have doubled, from 10 people a day in 2011, to 20.

“The most incredible, amazing people walk through the door,” said manager Brandi Matheson. “We don’t focus on people’s mental illness. We focus on their mental wellness. Your mental health issues don’t define you.”

The 50 regular members participate in activities that support their personal lives, social and recreational development, education, employment services, and special programs for young adults. Courses include yoga, meditation, cooking, creative arts, and life skills. There’s even a coffee bar where members can hone customer service and cashiering strategies.

Some members facilitate groups, while others want to be a part of them. Members make operational decisions for the centre, including managing finances and working hours, with backstopping from hired staff.

“We’re all in it together. There’s no division between staff and members. We’re all working together…From that, greatness comes, for everyone,” said Matheson.

Matheson has watched members bloom personally and professionally. While some people who never thought they could work are looking for jobs or have full-time employment, others have found love.

This week marks Canada’s 62nd annual Mental Health Week. To celebrate, Centennial Place is opening its doors for the community at large to participate in daily events, concluding an open house and two-year anniversary party on Friday, 1–4 p.m. After an opening ceremony by the Friendship Centre, there’ll be a DJ, tours of the centre, booths by various community organizations, and a speaker line-up.