Women's Mental Health

 

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Un groupe de femmes diverses

The Women’s Mental Health Program was created out of an important need to address the unique way women experience mental illness, treatment, recovery, and care. Women are faced with inequalities, and we understand that addressing these issues is imperative, not only for women, but for the health of our community. We promote mental health and well-being for all women by ensuring women’s experiences with the mental health system reflects their unique biological, psychological and social needs/roles. Through capacity building, peer support, and research we offer groups, events, education, and resources all created with women in mind.  

Women’s Resource Centre

A cornerstone of the program is the Shirley E. Greenberg Resource Centre for Women, which was created as the result of a generous donation from Shirley E. Greenberg. The resource centre’s main focus is to provide information about available supports to women with mental illness and their family members. The centre serves as a hub for education, peer and family support groups, as well as a safer space for women receiving care at The Royal. Often patients will stop by the centre to spend time with visiting children, to simply relax, or utilize centre resources (computers, telephone, reading materials, etc.).The Women’s Resource Centre is located on the second floor of the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre (1145 Carling Ave.), in the Winter Garden (room. 2103). If you have any questions about the Women’s Resource Centre, please contact michelle.jackson-brown@theroyal.ca 

Capacity Building

Capacity building refers to activities that increase the ability of service providers to address the unique mental health needs of women. We provide education and training to service providers internal and external to The Royal. Some of the topics we address includes mental health and trauma, gender identity and expression, responding to disclosures of sexual assault, and mental health first aid, all through a feminine lens.   

Through our capacity building activities, we aim to bridge gaps in knowledge and practice that exist between mental health services and women’s services in the community.

Peer Support

Peer support is a vital component of the services offered by Women’s Mental Health at The Royal. Our peer facilitators and volunteers offer a unique form of support to clients by engaging with the shared lived experience they hold in common.

Peer support facilitators and volunteers in the Women’s Mental Health Program are women who have experienced mental illness, treatment, and recovery. They have completed training in WRAP facilitation, and are registered volunteers. 

We offer many groups through a peer support model, check out our current and upcoming Groups & Events page to learn more. 

Birth, Parenting, & Mental Wellness 

Caring for oneself, and a child or children requires a lot of time and energy. The Women’s Mental Health Program offers groups, and resources to partner with women in their parenting roles. We address issues like depression and anxiety in parenting, ways to reduce distress and improve resilience, dynamics of relationships, and how to apply new skills. Some of our groups include Perinatal Wellness, and Perinatal Journaling. Check out our Groups & Events page to learn more about current groups and events. 

You can also check out our birth, and wellness series – a collaborative series of Facebook Live presentation with the Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre.

Violence against Women

Women (Cis and Trans) as well as non-binary people are subject to the bulk of gender based violence,  which can range from intimidation to physical violence, and even death or femicide. This has various health and mental health consequences that are in many ways unique to women/ non-binary people and can also negatively impact the mental health of their children.

Within the women’s mental health program we aim to improve service provision for women/ non-binary survivors of violence through clinical education and capacity building within the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre and mental health sector at large. At the same time we work with community VAW (Violence Against Women) sector agencies to better support the mental health of their clients; this has manifested primarily through the completion of a mental health needs assessment of women in VAW shelters in 2019, and through the creation of a online mental health check-in group for women in VAW shelters. 

You can also view this video from the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women and The Royal

Groups

Groups and events are a big part of the day to day offerings of the Women’s Mental Health Program. Keep an eye on the webpage to learn of upcoming events, and groups. We have both open- drop in style groups, running all year, and closed groups with capacity limits, running multiple times per year. Our groups are offered virtually, and when able to do so, we also build in times to meet and socialize in person. 

Current group offerings: 

Women’s Wellness Group (Virtual) 

Women’s Wellness Group is a virtual group focusing on women’s health and wellness. The group is recovery oriented, and offers a safe space for women to check in with one another and build community. At times guest speakers join to discuss specific topics connected to women’s health and wellness. This group is open, and operates in a drop in style. Tools needed include access to the internet/Zoom. 

Date: Mondays, 10 to 11 AM 
Facilitators: Glenda O’Hara, and Alexis Milne 

To REGISTER, email Glenda.ohara@theroyal.ca (name, phone number, and address will be required)

Journaling as a Wellness Tool Group (Virtual) 

Journaling as a Wellness Tool group is a fun and interactive group for women to express themselves through the act of journaling. Over 9 weeks, women will learn the benefits of journaling, as well as be lead through topics including making connections, emotional vocabulary, letter writing, lists, gratitude and intentions, self-esteem journaling, creative journaling and evaluation. Writing assignments are given each week, and sharing is optional. Tools needed include paper/journal, writing implement, emailed handouts, and Zoom access.  Space is limited to sixteen people, but the group is held several times per year. 

Date: Wednesdays, 10:30 AM to 12 PM, 9 weeks 
Facilitators: Anita Manley, and KJ Thomas. 

To REGISTER, email anita.manley@theroyal.ca (name, phone number, and address will be required) 

Healing Through Art (HEART) Group (Virtual)

Heart is a 10 week expressive arts group that creates a safe space for women to experience their creative side, and express their emotions through the practice of making art. No previous skills required, just a wiliness to explore healing through art. Tools needed for the art projects are provided, and delivery is arranged prior to the group beginning. Participants will also need access to the internet/Zoom. Space is limited to ten people, but will be offered again in the fall. 

Date: Thursdays, 1 to 3 PM, 10 weeks 
Facilitators: Nancy Solange Dean and Kim

To REGISTER, email krystal-jyl.thomas@theroyal.ca (name, phone number, and address will be required) 

VAW Mental Health Check In Group

This is a virtual weekly mental health check-in group for residents, and former residents, of Ottawa area Violence Against Women (VAW) shelters. We typically discuss the state of our mental health, what is helping us cope with difficulties, and how we plan to take care of ourselves going forward. This group is open, and operates as a drop-in style. 

Date: Tuesdays 1 to 2 PM 
Facilitator: Emma Slaney Gose.

To REGISTER, contact emma.slaney-gose@theroyal.ca  (name, phone number, and address will be required) 

Perinatal Wellness Group (Virtual)

The Perinatal Wellness Group is a virtual drop in group that offers a safe space for women to check-in with one another about perinatal experiences and create community. The focus of the group is on mental health and wellness, coping with mental health and perinatal experiences, and maintaining wellness. It is an open group, and ongoing, so people may drop in as they are able. Tools needed will include access to the internet/Zoom. 

Date: Tuesdays 10 to 11 AM & Wednesdays 2 to 3 PM 
Facilitators: Michelle Jackson-Brown and Emma Slaney Gose 

To REGISTER, email michelle.jackson-brown@theroyal.ca (name, phone number, and address will be required)

Perinatal Journaling as a Wellness Tool Group

Perinatal Journaling as a Wellness Tool group is a safe space for women to express themselves through the act of journaling- with emphasis on the perinatal journey. Over 9 weeks, women will learn the benefits of journaling, as well as be lead through topics including making connections, emotional vocabulary, letter writing, lists, gratitude and intentions, self-esteem journaling, creative journaling and evaluation. Writing assignments are given each week, and sharing is optional. Tools needed include paper/journal, writing implement, emailed handouts, and Zoom access.  Space is limited to sixteen people, but the group is held several times per year. 

Date: Mondays, 1 to 2 PM, 9 weeks (March 7 to May 2)
Facilitators: Anita Manley, and Michelle Jackson-Brown 

To REGISTER contact michelle.jackson-brown@theroyal.ca (name, phone number, and address will be required) 

Women’s Education Series

The Women’s Education Series is a 1.5 hour group with varying guest speakers joining to talk about women’s issues, health care, and wellness. Presenters share a one hour presentation, followed by 30 minutes of open discussion, questions, and answers. These groups are drop in style, and offered throughout the year. For more information about the group, or if you are interested in being a guest speaker, please contact krystal-jyl.thomas@theroyal.ca 

Date: Coming soon. 
Facilitator: KJ Thomas

To REGISTER contact krystal-jyl.thomas@theroyal.ca (name, phone number, and address will be required)

Events

Shopper’s Run for Women

The Royal Ottawa has partnered with Shoppers Run for Women. You can walk, job, dance, or run your way to more resources for women’s mental health. Head to www.runforwomen.ca to find out more. 

Date: June 5, 2022
Location: LeBreton Flats Park

Virtual: 5K/10K Walk/Run & 1K Little Steps
In-Person with switch to Virtual: 5k Walk/Run, 10K run &1K Little Steps

Click here to sign up for this year's run.

Women In Mind Conference

Each year the Women’s Mental Health Program at The Royal hosts the Women In Mind Conference. A place where people can come together to learn about women’s mental health, and steps we can take in practices and communities to enhance the wellbeing of all women. Join us in November for our Women In Mind Conference, details to follow.  

Resources

Information and Resources

https://www.theroyal.ca/information-and-practice-resources

Ottawa Based Services and Resources

https://www.theroyal.ca/ottawa-based-services-and-resources

W.R.A.P. Information

https://copelandcenter.com/ 

Living Healthy with Chronic Conditions

https://www.livinghealthychamplain.ca/

Research

Over the past several months Women’s Mental Health at The Royal, with the support of Women’s Xchange at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, has been working on a project to develop a mental health report card on the mental health status of women staying in Violence Against Women (VAW) sector shelters.

Click to see an abstract offering preliminary results.

Meet the team

KJ Thomas, MSW, RSW
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KJ Thomas

KJ Thomas, MSW, RSW, is a registered social worker within the Women’s Mental Health Program at The Royal. KJ has spent the last 15 years focusing on community mental health. She is also the familiar facilitator seen in The Royal Ottawa Family Groups, and author of the Family Voice Bulletin. KJ has dedicated her career to supporting clients, and families through personal, and community support using her formalized professional training, as well as lived experience.    

Michelle Jackson-Brown, MSW
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Michelle Jackson-Brown

Michelle is the Social Worker/Peer Support Worker for the Women's Mental Health Program. Michelle has over 10 years experience working with The Royal's Community Mental Health Program. Outside of the Royal, Michelle has dedicated time to volunteering with various peer initiatives and supporting organizations in the areas of mental health substance use, and perinatal health. In addition, she has worked with several women-centred agencies across Ottawa including Cornerstone Housing for Women, the Elizabeth Fry Society, and the YSB Young Women's Shelter. 

Emma Slaney Gose, RSW
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Emma Slaney-Gose

Emma Slaney Gose has been a registered social worker with Women's Mental Health (WMH) at The Royal since 2018. She coordinates the Violence Against Women (VAW) Shelter mental health check-in groups, and has been extensively involved in WMH's VAW programming and research. Prior to this role, Emma worked extensively as a frontline service provider in the homeless sector. She is also pursuing a PhD in Anthropology at the University of Ottawa.

Anita Manley
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Anita Manley

Anita Manley has 10 years of peer facilitation experience in Women's Mental Health. She co-founded and co-facilitates "Journaling as a Wellness Tool", and co-facilitated WRAP for several years. Anita is also the first client representative on The Board of Trustees at The Royal.

Glenda O’Hara
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Glenda O'Hara

Glenda O’Hara volunteers as a peer facilitator in the Women’s Mental Health Program. She runs a weekly Women’s Wellness Support Group, and takes part in  Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) and Journaling groups. Glenda also volunteers as chair of the Client Advisory Council and a visitor with residents of The Royal’s long term care facility. In 2020, Glenda was honoured to be one of The Royal’s Inspiration Award.

Alexis Milne
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Alexis Milne

Alexis Milne is a volunteer, and co-facilitator with the Women’s Mental Health Program at The Royal. Alexis brings her lived experience & support to wellness recovery groups, workshops, and Peer Support. 

Nancy Solange Dean
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Nancy Solange-Dean

Nancy Solange Dean is a volunteer facilitator at The Royal, running the HEART group. She is an Expressive Arts Practitioner who believes in everyone’s innate creative power.  She finds joy in witnessing the shift in people as they embrace their creative side.  Lover of all things spontaneous!

 

Upcoming Groups

If you are interested in signing up for a group, please contact:

Name
KJ Thomas
Title
Social Worker, Women's Mental Health Program
Name
Michelle Jackson-Brown
Title
Social Worker, Women's Mental Health Program (Perinatal)

Shirley E. Greenberg Resource Centre for Women

A cornerstone of the program is the Shirley E. Greenberg Resource Centre for Women, which was created as the result of a generous donation from Shirley E. Greenberg. The resource centre’s main focus is to provide information about available supports to women with mental illness and their family members. The centre serves as a hub for education, peer and family support groups, as well as a safer space for women receiving care at The Royal. Often patients will stop by the centre to spend time with visiting children, to simply relax, or utilize centre resources (computers, telephone, reading materials, etc.).

The Women’s Resource Centre is located on the second floor of the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre (1145 Carling Ave.), in the Winter Garden (room. 2103).