Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division and Autism Ontario are working together to provide opportunities for Ontario adults with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families to gain knowledge, skills and/or resources in mental health through a new program called Mental Health Matters. Mental Health Matters has adapted CMHA Ontario flagship programs Living Life to the Full and Mood Walks to support these populations.
About Mental Health Matters – Mood Walks
Mood Walks is a provincewide initiative that promotes physical activity in nature, or “green exercise,” as a way to improve both physical and mental health. Mood Walks provides training and support to launch hiking programs, connect with local resources, find volunteers and explore nearby trails and green spaces.
Activities within the Mental Health Matters project involve local autism and mental health community partner collaboration to implement Mood Walks for adults on the autism spectrum and their families. As part of this project, the Mood Walks program is offered in English and French.
Local community partners see individual and organizational benefits of accessing Mood Walks training for both staff and volunteers, and running the program in their local communities. Offering a program to support adults on the spectrum and their families through safe hiking experiences is one way for community partners and participants to form positive relationships and experiences. The project will deliver 12 Mental Health Matters Mood Walk programs across Ontario.
For more information on the Mental Health Matters adaptation of Mood Walks, visit the Mood Walks website.
About Mental Health Matters – Living Life to the Full
Living Life To The Full is a 12-hour, eight-week program based in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) that teaches how to understand your feelings and what to do with them. This course helps people to make a difference to their lives. Each session is expertly moderated and includes a booklet. Participants are taught how to deal with their feelings when fed up, worried, or hopeless, and learn skills that help them tackle life’s problems.
Activities within the Mental Health Matters project involve local autism and mental health community partner collaboration to create an adaptation for the existing Living Life to the Full course for both adults living on the spectrum and their caregivers, as well as a new language adaptation in Tamil. As part of this project, the Living Life to the Full course will be offered in English, French and Tamil.
This project offers free opportunities for Ontario adults on the spectrum and caregivers of individuals on the spectrum to learn wellness and coping skills using the tenets of cognitive behavioural therapy. Ultimately, this project will deliver 44 adapted Living Life to the Full courses to adults on the spectrum and caregivers of individuals on the spectrum, positively impacting hundreds of people across Ontario.
The refresher courses offered six months after participants complete Living Life to the Full programs provide a great opportunity to build a community of practice. Many of the caregivers, family members and adults on the spectrum may benefit from this follow-up refresher opportunity, as they can practice their skills and meet up with like-minded people.
What is Living Life To The Full
How Living Life to the Full has helped caregivers
Previous to Mental Health Matters, Living Life to the Full proved its value to caregivers through CMHA Ontario’s adaptation of the program for caregivers 55+. Participants acknowledged significant improvements to depression, anxiety, well-being and feelings of loneliness after taking the course. In particular, Living Life To The Full helped caregivers take control of their thoughts, feelings and behaviours by using various CBT techniques. Caregivers learned to recognize and deal with feelings of frustration and anger, how to reconnect again, meet new friends and discover the joy and happiness felt when looking at things differently.
For more information on Living Life to the Full, including the caregivers 55+ program, click here.
What caregivers had to say
Find a course near you
Developmental Services Ontario Central East Region, York Support Services Network, 240 Edward St., Unit #3
When: Every Thursdays starting Jan 16 to March 5, from 2.30 pm to 4 pm
Contact: Susan Van Elswyk, firstname.lastname@example.org, 905 898-6455 x 2212
For more information:
If you are an organization interested in hosting a workshop for the autism community or an individual interested in participating in the workshop, please contact us at 416-977-5580 ext. 4173 or email@example.com.
Mental Health Matters is presented in partnership by:
The Canadian Mental Health Association, British Columbia
holds the exclusive licence to Living Life To The Full.