The Self Help Resource Centre is a non-profit, charitable organization funded by United Way Toronto & York Region and the City of Toronto. We have been connecting people with peer support groups and initiatives since 1987. These initiatives continue to support people in overcoming major life challenges and transitions on the path to improved health and happiness. We do this through training and supporting peer support leaders, providing resources to groups and individuals, operating an online database and information referral line, managing peer support programs at large organizations, and delivering wellness seminars, workshops, and programs.
The Self-Help Resource Centre leads peer support initiatives in communities, focusing on those facing multiple social and systemic barriers. We increase access by building the capacity of individuals and organizations in collaboration with dedicated staff, volunteers, partners and community members through outreach, networking, training, consultation, resource development, and knowledge exchange.
We envision a world where we come together to connect meaningfully and share knowledge, where we see strength in every person and their lived experience, and where we grow change by listening to all voices, particularly those most marginalized, in order to build empathy and create universal access to better systems.
- We believe in the power of individuals coming together around a common issue or goal to promote Mental Health and Well-being.
- We believe that every person has the right to be met with compassion, accepted in a non-judgmental way, and treated with respect, and we support an environment of mutual respect.
- We value experiential knowledge, and the strengths and assets that individuals, organizations and communities bring.
- We nurture the development of individual potential by providing an environment that promotes self determination, and encourages learning and personal development.
- We believe that each of us is enriched when we are able to work collaboratively with one another to share experiences, perspectives, information, knowledge and supports.
- We embrace diversity, and support non-discriminatory policies and practices. Diversity refers to different racial and cultural backgrounds, age, gender, sexual orientation, and visible and invisible challenges.
- We support our community by providing a variety of flexible and responsive programs and services that are designed to reach individuals and communities that have faced barriers to accessing services.
- We are committed to ensuring the provision of high quality, comprehensive services from well-informed, well-qualified staff.
The Self-Help Resource Centre defines peer support as a process of sharing common experiences, situations or challenges. Peer support is an exchange of getting and giving support. It involves the practice of self-care and sharing “what works”. Peer Support is not based on medical models of illness and disorder, rather it is the provision of emotional, practical and informational supports by people with lived experiences, to cultivate mutual empowerment. Peer support initiatives are run by and for the participants.
Our Philosophy on Mental Health & Wellbeing
We all live on a spectrum of wellness, each using our own tools to keep us feeling okay. We will all face a crisis at some point in our lives, and that crisis will look different for everyone. Some will be acute and immediate, others gradual or ongoing. Crisis can take many forms: losing a loved one, taking the subway, physical debilitation, addiction, dealing with conflict at work, hospitalization, cumulative stress, anger and irritation, or a relationship ending. To help us through these times, we need wellness tools, which could include things like group support, physical self-care, taking a walk, meditation, exercise, creative projects, therapy, hobbies, or talking to a friend. Some of us are born into a support structure that could include family, secure housing, access to education, job prospects, or personal connections. Some of us have never experienced or had access to those kinds of supports. When tools and supports are not available, it is harder to deal with challenges. Recognizing that we don’t all start with the same blank canvas is a powerful way to acknowledge that there is not necessarily one cause or cure for challenges, but there can always be context and compassion. The tendency for the widely-used language around mental health to imply that anyone experiencing mental health challenges is suffering from an illness disconnects their experience from all other human experiences, and can create a sense of hopelessness and isolation.
We believe that knowing ourselves and which tools work best for us is part of maintaining the equilibrium of life, and is also one of the surest strategies for handling stress and challenges. The answers for how to manage life challenges already exist within the lived experience of others. When we come together with common purpose and experience, we become stronger as individuals and as a society – we create movement and change. By creating safe spaces, harnessing the power in sharing and learning from peers, acknowledging context and social systems, and being mindful with language, we can all work together to eliminate the stigma around mental health challenges and create a world where we all get to feel okay, even when we’re not.