All posts in “peer support”

Introduction Peer Support Facilitator Training

On Friday February 27th the SHRC provided its second out of multiple trainings on how to facilitate a peer support group. The high demand from the community has inspired us to offer more trainings in the coming months. The introductory training is a peer support group in itself. It starts off with introductions/check in, group objectives & agenda, and the creation of group guidelines/comfort agreement including how to talk about conflict in a group, the peer facilitator role, and boundaries. The training continues with peer support perspectives in mental health, a personal facilitator skills inventory, and individual action plans for next steps in starting a group. It concludes with a mindfulness practice and check out.

After completion of the intro training, participants are welcome to sign up for the advanced training where we will dive deeper into facilitator skill development and group challenges.

Participant feedback:

“Thank you this was worth a Friday at 10am and in Toronto where I travel 2 hours to get here!!”
“Thank you knowledgeable people and Houselink is a comfortable happy setting.”
“What was most useful was the good, solid content and picking up energy and inspiration from individuals and the whole group.”
“What I liked most was the group discussion and the facilitators were willing to help.”
“The collaborative group/class work was insightful and engaging.”
“What I found most useful was evaluating our own facilitation skills/abilities and how simple it is to start a group.”
“Very welcoming environment. I felt comfortable, safe and enjoyed the snacks/beverages.”
“Very well presented, participation was encouraged.”
“The most useful was the action plan to start a group and the contacts I made.”
“Very rewarding experience.”
“Going through the group action plan was most useful. Breaking it down helped to operationalize my own action plan.”
“What I liked most was learning what I could do to resolve conflict.”
“Really awesome. Thank you!”

Volunteer With Us

At the Self-Help Resource Centre the core of our work is done through volunteers. We try to ensure that each volunteer can participate in the best way they can and we match their skills and passions and time restraints with their volunteer contribution. View current volunteer opportunities.

Peer Support Group Facilitation Training

On Friday January 30th the SHRC provided its first out of multiple trainings on how to facilitate a peer support group. The high demand from the community has inspired us to offer 2 more rounds of the introductory training and 2 rounds of the advanced. The introductory training is a peer support group in itself. It starts off with a walking group (weather permitting), introductions/check in, group objectives & agenda, and the creation of group guidelines/comfort agreement including how to talk about conflict in a group, the peer facilitator role, and boundaries. The training continues with peer support perspectives in mental health, a personal facilitator skills inventory, and individual action plans for next steps in starting a group. It concludes with a mindfulness practice and check out.

After completion of the intro training, participants are welcome to sign up for the advanced training where we will dive deeper into facilitator skill development and group challenges.

Participant feedback:

“Very helpful and relevant.”
“It was a great experience I learned a lot.”
“This workshop is exactly what I needed to go forward to my next step.”
“I like the skills building aspect that emphasizes organizing a peer program.”
“I liked that the attendees were a diverse bunch especially in their reasons for taking the training. I liked the location and the time it ended. I liked the two breaks we had because it gave me an opportunity to get fresh air and stretch my legs.”
“It was encouraging to realize that the action of peer-facilitation is becoming more widely accepted.”

Volunteer testimonials:

“Participating in the facilitator training was an excellent learning opportunity, as a placement student at SHRC. I feel the most useful and practical skill taught in this training was how to to negate conflict within a group. Having participated in a few groups and facilitated one, I have learned that conflict is inevitable; there will always be a difference of opinion and values that are brought to each group due to the natural diversity and variation within our communities. This exact notion of differing worldviews was also brought to the forefront in the training, demonstrating the importance of discourses within the context of comparing a medicalized model of mental health versus an everyday account of mental health. It was further explained that often times these differing and conflicting perspectives is the source of much conflict within groups. Therefore, understanding where our counterparts situate themselves within these discourses is imperative to resolving conflict. The style in which the training was taught was very useful as a participant interested in improving their skills as a peer support facilitator. The entirety of the training was organized similar as to how a support group should run from beginning to the end including some of the following; introductions, check-in’s, agenda and objectives, creating a comfort agreement, a series of topics, mindfulness and a check-out process. This set-up of the training was useful in understanding how a group should run within direct practice and further allowed the participants to take away a practical skill to implement within their own work. Also, the use of activities and post-it notes was my favourite part of the training. Often times, day trainings tends to become a lecture-style format in which all the participants are sitting and listening to the presenter while a slide show runs in the background. Having activities to do with all the participants, at your individual table and also in pairs, avoided this earlier fear and allowed for active engagement without getting bored or distracted. Lastly, the post-it notes were useful because it incorporated a visual and artistic component to the training, that is often lacking in other more traditional types of training.” ~ Caitlin Keating

“Assisting, as well as participating in the SHRC’s peer support group facilitation training, was an invaluable experience. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to help with some preparation for the group as well as being able to help others with their action plans. Making the action plans was very enjoyable and productive. Developing them lead to much needed direction and motivation to begin facilitating our own groups. The training content was detailed and very informative. The input from many of the participants regarding their past experiences in groups, discussing what worked and what didn’t, positively added to the discussion. The extensive facilitation experience of the SHRC’s peer support training facilitator, was very apparent with the level of knowledge she demonstrated and shared with the group. I found the peer support training to be extremely worthwhile and beneficial.” ~ Tammy Clayton

Mental Health Peer Support Organization

Group Name: Mental Health Peer Support Organization

Description: The Mental Health Peer Support Organization is a group designed to help people with mental health labels and /or challenges live happier and more fulfilling lives. Members within the group, pledge to help each other and themselves at the same time. This group will inspire people to reach their individual goals with the support and encouragement of each other. Sharing, caring and open, honest communication are key to the success of this group and it’s members.

Open to all people with Mental Health “labels”.
The group is also open to supporters of people with said challenges including friends and family. If you have no friends and family then please join as we want you to make new peer support friends!
Many of our members have been volunteers and or professionals in the area of mental health for years. Many of us know peer support works to improve health. Many have personally been and continue to be involved in results that have improved quality of life and even saved lives. **** Registration is required.

Where: St. Joseph’s Health Centre, 30 The Queensway Central Conference Dining Room | Toronto, ON M6R 1B5

When: Meetings are most Mondays from 7 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. plus socials, verify online.

Contact: |

Latinos Positivos Toronto

Group Name: Latinos Positivos Toronto

Description: Latinos Positivos was founded to respond to the need for HIV positive Latinos to build a community that reflected the Latino culture, provided services in Spanish and was focused solely for and by HIV positive individuals. We provide free and confidential services and programs for Spanish-speaking men and women living with HIV. We are a community working together to alleviate the barriers that you may have if you live with HIV or have been recently diagnosed with the virus.

Peer Counselling
Peer counselling is a type of support offered by another person living with HIV, these individuals (peers) have previous training but do not have an official designation as counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist. The counselling is based on a personal similar transition or experience and the outcomes of these experiences help others in assertive decision making by attentive listening, providing information or giving referrals to another service at Latinos Positivos Toronto or another community partner. Other services at Latinos Positivos include: translation, interpretations, settlement servicdes, and HIV/AIDS prevention.

Where: 200 Gerrard St. E 3rd Floor | Toronto, ON M5A 2E6

When: Please call for more information, Monday to Friday from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m.

Contact: Omar or Tomas 416-506-1400 Ext. 109 | |

Mennonite New Life Centre – Group Workshops & Programs

Group Name: Mennonite New Life Centre – Group Workshops & Programs

Description: The Mennonite New Life Centre envisions a society in which all people from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds participate fully in all aspects of Canadian life. We will model an approach that brings together community engagement and community services, working together with newcomers to reduce insecurity and reach integration, strengthen voices and increase social equality. As a community-based settlement agency, the Mennonite New Life Centre is a place of welcome, friendship and community, where newcomers and neighbours gather to support each other, learn from each other, and take action together for a more just and compassionate society.

Group Workshops & Programs
Throughout the year, the community mental health program offers a range of group programs and workshops, providing participants with opportunities to share stories and mutual support, build resilience and hope, identify strengths and develop community leadership. Group programs include refugee support groups, parenting support groups, a strengths-based empowerment and leadership development group, and an employment and mental health group.

Our workshops support participants to tap into their inner strength, while managing emotions, learning positive communication approaches, and building support networks.

Where: 1774 Queen St. East | Toronto, ON M4L 1G7

When: Please call for more information.

Contact: 416-699-4527 | |

Technology, Innovation and Online Peer Support

­­­Often times when we think of the term ‘innovation’ we immediately jump to a new game-changing physical product that will drastically change the way we operate as human beings. While new products are often innovative, this mindset excludes a significant number of innovative solutions from ever being recognized by the public.

The internet is an obvious example of both the new innovative product as well as a means by which people are being innovative. In the recent past, more and more health-based products and services have begun to surface online. Some products are general, (for example, which helps the user set goals and reach them by exploiting loss aversion. I.E. if you fail to reach your goal, you have to donate money to a cause you don’t like), while some are more specific, for example the start-up Lantern who just launched an online service that helps users achieve emotional wellbeing by combining professional coaching and daily exercises.

The internet is a great place for personal development, and it is increasingly becoming an amazing platform for peer support.

For years, the Internet has been home to support forums ranging from Yahoo Groups to various sections on Reddit (known as subreddits). These mediums have the benefits of being increasingly accessible from anywhere, having an enormous body of individuals participating in the community, not necessitating participation at any specific time or location, and being based on a website that people may be using anyway.

Despite all the benefits of text-based online support groups, the SHRC felt that real-time conversations are still extremely important, and yet, we still wanted to mitigate any barriers that people might experience, as is done with support forums. As such, we, along with another mental health organization known as Everybody Has A Brain, have developed a Google Hangouts-based (Think Skype, but BETTER!) Anxiety Workshop. The application not only allows up to ten users to video chat for free, but also carries many of the same benefits of text-based forums such as accessibility, differing perspectives from different people, and not having to travel to any physical location.

This particular group is being labeled as a workshop because there is a set start and end date, and the group is based on building healthy coping skills. Unlike more traditional peer support groups, the focus of the workshop is not only to empathize with other sufferers, but to also make a conscious and deliberate effort to share and discover possible mechanisms by which anxiety can be overcome.

We have structured the group with as little hierarchy as possible, believing that everyone has important insight to contribute. While there are group facilitators, their job consist only of three things: starting and ending the meetings, keeping time, and making sure that all members abide by the agreed upon guidelines.

Another characteristic that makes the group unique is that all content and topics have been created collectively by the group, and each week, the discussion is led by a different group member. The goal of this was to ensure that all topics were relevant to users, and to help everyone understand that they have ownership over both the workshop and their recovery.

The aspect of the workshop that I am most excited about is a shared spreadsheet that we created. In it, participants are encouraged to participate in a CBT exercise in which each member can record daily sources of anxiety, the thoughts leading up to it, evidence that supports the thoughts, evidence that goes against the thoughts, and general notes on the situation. The goal of this daily exercise is to increase the user’s awareness of what leads up to their episodes, help them understand these feelings, accept them, and ultimately conquer the feeling. The SHRC felt that the socialized aspect of this traditional CBT exercise was a good way to keep users on track, as often, when done alone, individuals tend to forget or simply neglect to do them.

The SHRC is very excited by the idea of innovation in the field of peer support, and looks forward to seeing what the future holds. If you have any ideas, examples or thoughts, please feel free to comment below, email, or tweet us!




Gerstein Crisis Centre – Wellness Recovery Action Plan

Group Name: Gerstein Crisis Centre – Wellness Recovery Action Plan

Description: Gerstein Crisis Centre was established 25 years ago in Toronto to meet the recognized need for providing non-medical community based support reflecting the needs and wishes of people experiencing mental health crisis.

WRAP stands for Wellness Recovery Action Plan. It’s a program that was developed in Vermont, USA, in 1997 by Mary Ellen Copeland and a group of friends who had all experienced the mental health system. The WRAP program involves an educational and planning process that is grounded in mental health recovery concepts such as hope, education, empowerment, self-advocacy, and interpersonal support and connection. Within a group setting, individuals explore self-help tools (eg. peer counseling, focusing exercises, relaxation & stress reduction techniques) and resources for keeping themselves well and for helping themselves feel better in difficult times.

Where: 100 Charles Street East | Toronto, ON M4Y 1V3

Contact: 416-929-0149 | |

Tuberous Sclerosis Canada Patient Meeting

Dr. Anil Kapoor, Director of the Hamilton/Niagara TSC Program and Professor of Surgery (Urology) McMaster University is hosting a TSC Patient meeting. All families and caregivers encouraged to attend. You will have the opportunity to hear Dr. Kapoor speak on tsc related issues and to meet and network with others.

When: Monday, February 9th, 2015 from 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.

Where: Juravinski Cancer Centre Lecture Theatre, 4th Floor, Juravinski Cancer Centre at Hamilton Health Sciences | 699 Concession Street, Hamilton, Ontario L8V 4X2

Contact: | | 1-888-223-2410

MicroSkills – Youth Welcoming Centre

Group Name: MicroSkills – Youth Welcoming Centre

Description: Community MicroSkills Development Centre is a non-profit organization that has served communities in Toronto and surrounding areas since 1984. They provide settlement, employment, and self-employment services to individuals, with priority to the needs of immigrants, youth, visible minority people, and low-income women.

Our Youth Welcoming Centre is a space that offers programming where youth feel welcomed, supported and valued by the community where they live. The Centre reaches out to youth who are new in Canada, as well as youth who are established in their community, and engages them in activities for mutual sharing, learning, and peer support. MicroSkills implements the Youth Welcoming model not only in the Centre itself, located at Dixon and Islington, but also in the other offsite locations where our youth services are delivered, such as in local schools, multi-service centers and hubs. Our youth services are available from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, and include:

  • Education and Career Support
  • Physical, Nutrition & Wellness Program
  • English Conversation Starters
  • Leadership and Volunteer Development
  • Parent Engagement
  • Empowered Girls Clubs
  • Information, Support and Referral Services
  • Rexdale ProTech Media Centre
  • Cook Pre-apprenticeship Program

Where: 235 Dixon Road, Unit 12 | Toronto, ON M9P 2M5

When: Call for more information.

Contact: 416-247-7181 Exts. 1, 2601 | 1-877-979-3999 | |

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