Hefty donation to help the homeless and support mental health
PRISM, a program designed to help the homeless and support their mental health just got a substantial cash injection thanks to Bell Canada. Bell Let’s Talk 2019 recently donated $300,000 to three homeless shelters in Montreal: Accueil Bonneau, Welcome Hall Mission, and the Old Brewery Mission. Martine Turcotte, Bell’s Vice Chair Quebec, and Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante announced the donation at the Old Brewery Mission downtown to mark Bell Let’s Talk Day an annual social media event that raises awareness about mental health while combating the stigma surrounding mental health conditions.
“Bell Let’s Talk is proud to partner with these fantastic organizations to improve mental health services for homeless people in Montreal,” Turcotte said. “By joining forces, Accueil Bonneau, Welcome Hall Mission, and the Old Brewery Mission, together with the CIUSSS, are creating a model for innovative mental health care that will make such a difference for some of the most vulnerable in our community.” The three offer a wide range of emergency, transition, health, and housing programs helping thousands of men and women in Montreal to rebuild their lives.
It’s no secret that homelessness and mental health problems often go hand-in-hand. The objective of PRISM is to provide sustained access to mental health care for homeless people with severe mental illness. This requires an ongoing commitment and adequate financial and human resources. Without a permanent structure to assess, treat, and monitor the mental health of homeless individuals who seek temporary refuge in shelters they are likely to end up back on the street.
“I would like to thank Bell for investing in Montréal’s community organizations which have developed critical expertise in helping the homeless,” Mayor Plante said. “To adapt services to the specific needs of those suffering from mental illness, we need more innovative, partnership-based projects like PRISM that bring together stakeholders from the community, the municipalities and the public and private sectors.”
PRISM supports homeless men and women diagnosed with severe mental disorders with transitional housing for 6 to 8 weeks, during which they receive care from a multidisciplinary team of psychiatrists, nurses and social workers from CIUSSS, as well as community advisors and support workers. The focus is on improving the participants’ mental health as a starting point to reintegrate into society before they can access stable and affordable housing. PRISM provides 42 beds across the 3 organizations, including 10 beds for women at the Old Brewery Mission’s Patricia Mackenzie Pavilion.
“Before PRISM was launched in 2013 as a pilot project at the Old Brewery Mission, homeless people with debilitating mental health issues were systematically neglected,” said Dr. Olivier Farmer, a psychiatrist at Hôpital Notre-Dame and co-founder of the project. Now, she says, the rate of participants moving into stable housing is 60%, something she says its team of health care professionals and staff can be proud of. The partnership enables everybody to take better care of the homeless, to meet them where they are, providing a place where they are welcome and know they won’t be forgotten.
“I would like to thank Bell Let’s Talk for supporting PRISM and its model of inter-sector collaboration,” said Matthew Pearce, President, and CEO of the Old Brewery Mission. “To adequately address the complex links between mental illness and homelessness, we need new approaches like PRISM that offers a promising new model.” Bell Lets Talk has raised over 86.5 million dollars for various mental health initiatives around the country since its founding in 2010. Bell Canada is the largest telecommunications company in the country and is headquartered in Montreal.
Feature image: From left to right, front row: Sam Watts, CEO and Executive Director of Welcome Hall Mission, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, Martine Turcotte, Bell’s Vice Chair Québec, Eric Maldoff, Chair, Board of Directors of the Old Brewery Mission, Matthew Pearce, President and CEO of the Old Brewery Mission. From left to right, back row: Cyril Morgan, Chair, Board of Directors of Welcome Hall Mission, Aubin Boudreau, Executive Director of Accueil Bonneau and Dr. Olivier Farmer, Psychiatrist at Notre-Dame Hospital.