Connecting Students to Community-Based Expertise

This section aims to help an array of campus staff build a professional network with community mental health and addiction services in Ontario.

The following set of broad guidelines will help front line counselling staff learn to navigate the process of connecting students/clients to community resources. These seven recommendations are also useful to managers looking to have a better understanding of this system of services and programs in their search for creating formalized links and collaborations in the community.

Be Mental Health and Addictions Savvy, Suicide-‘\Aware and Trauma-Informed, and Recovery Competent

Understand Recovery…having the right combination of services and supports are crucial elements to assist individuals dealing with mental health and/or addiction issues in their recovery process. This is especially important for youth as these problems started for over 70% of individuals living with mental health problems and illnesses when they were young.

The Mental Health Strategy for Canada defines recovery as living a satisfying, hopeful, and meaningful life, even when there are ongoing limitations caused by mental health issues. It goes on to say recovery does not imply a “cure”. While for some full remission may be possible, for others it is something that has to be managed over the course of their life and does not prevent one from leading a happy, fulling life.

Early, effective intervention is critical not only in reducing the impact of the disabilities associated with mental health and related substance use disorder but also in reducing the associated risks such as unemployment, homelessness, trauma, poverty, suicide and early death. Identifying when a person is struggling with mental health and addiction issues and engaging and working with them to find the help they need can significantly support their recovery.

The road to recovery can also include the notion of “harm reduction” when supporting someone dealing with a substance misuse issues. There are many effective and innovative programs, services and practices working within a harm reduction context at community mental health and addiction agencies throughout Ontario. To read more on harm reduction visit

The following links can assist in providing more information and training resources around Mental Health and Addictions, Suicide Intervention, Trauma Informed Care and Recovery.

Resource Links

Mental Health Commission of Canada

The Mental Health Commission of Canada was created by the Canadian government in 2007 in response to a senate committee tasked to study mental health, mental illness, and addiction. It has concentrated on addressing 5 major objectives:

  • Development of a National Mental Health Strategy
  • Creation of a Knowledge Exchange Centre
  • Development, Implementation and Overseeing an anti-stigma and anti-discrimination campaign
  • Support of 5 research demonstration projects on mental health and homelessness
  • Creation of Mental Health First Aid

In addition, MHCC worked with numerous committees in different areas of mental health concentrating on major areas of concern. One of these committees addressed Child & Youth issues and established the MHCC Youth Council. This group took the Mental Health Strategy for Canada and wrote a Youth Perspective of the Strategy.

The following projects on the MHCC website might be of particular interest in supporting your work with students with mental health and addiction issues:

Guidelines for Recovery Oriented Practice

The Guidelines have been written to provide a comprehensive Canadian reference document for understanding recovery and to promote a consistent application of recovery principles.

Video: Hope Changes Everything

The Provincial Recovery Champions Committee along with the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) released a video to promote the new Guidelines for Recovery-Oriented Practice. The video provides personal stories, opinions from mental health professionals and explains how new policies may be put in place to shift from the traditional clinical-oriented approach to a recovery-oriented practice.

Mental Health First Aid

One of the five objectives addressed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada was to improve people’s knowledge around mental health and reduce stigma through the establishment of a national wide training program – Mental Health First Aid (MHFA). This training, available around the country by instructors trained by MHFA, helps people to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health problems, to provide the initial early help that is so important to recovery and to guide a person towards appropriate professional help.

Courses are specifically geared toward working with the following groups: Basic Adult, For Adults Who Interact with Youth, Northern Peoples, Inuit ,First Nations, Veteran Community and Seniors.


Addictions & Mental Health Ontario

In support of building a more comprehensive and responsive system for the treatment of addictions and mental health in Ontario, Addictions Ontario (AO) and the Ontario Federation of Community Mental Health and Addiction Programs (OFCMHAP) have come together to build a new association, Addictions and Mental Health Ontario. Their goal is to ensure that all Ontarians can access the services and supports they need to address substance misuse and mental health issues, fostering dignity and accountability to those it serves.

Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse

CCSA provides guidance and advice on addictions and substance use to public, private and non-governmental organizations. Through partnerships, CCSA is works to improve the health and safety of Canadians through nurturing a knowledge exchange environment where research guides policy and evidence-informed actions enhance effectiveness in the field of addictions. It has a number of resources geared particularly to youth and campuses, including the document Canadians Youth Perceptions on Marijuana.

Postsecondary Education Partnership — Alcohol Harms

The Postsecondary Education Partnership — Alcohol Harms is a group of universities and colleges from across Canada, partnered with the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) and Universities Canada.

 Canadian Harm Reduction Network

According to the Canadian Harm Reduction Network, harm reduction refers to policies, programs and practices that aim to reduce the negative health, social and economic consequences that may ensue from the use of legal and illegal psychoactive drugs, without necessarily reducing drug use.

Further Resources on Harm Reduction –


Guiding Principles and Elements of Recovery-Oriented Systems of Care: What do we know from the Research?

A white paper which examines the research supporting the principles of recover and systems of care elements as defined by the National Summit on Recovery. Findings in more than 375 studies were identified which supported the framework, principles, elements and implementation of recovery-oriented services and systems.

CMHA  Toronto Recovery Supports

In 2007 CMHA Toronto began a Consumer Participation Initiative to ensure that we operate from a recovery perspective, and that we engage consumers in all levels of the organization.

Recovery to Practice RTP/SAMSHA

This website provides resources and links to help behavioural health and general healthcare practitioners improve delivery of recovery-oriented services, supports and treatments.


LIving Works

Oversees the most widely used suicide intervention training programs in the world through four types of workshops – Suicide Talk and eSuicideTalk (on-line course), Suicide Safe, Applied Suicide Skills Intervention Training (ASIST), and Suicide for Hope.

Together to Live

Together to Live is an evergreen online toolkit for addressing youth suicide in your community. The Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health (the Centre) created this website as a tool for service providers working with children and youth to help them bring their community together to prevent youth suicide.

Communities are unique. There’s no “one size fits all” approach for addressing youth suicide. With that being said, there are many ways in which communities can relate to one another and learn from each other. This toolkit can serve as common ground for all communities in Ontario.


Six Key Principles of a Trauma Informed Approach From

SAMSHA’S Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach

  1. Safety
  2. Trustworthiness and Transparency
  3. Peer Support
  4. Collaboration and Mutuality
  5. Empowerment, Voice and Choice
  6. Cultural, Historical and Gender Issues

SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) approached this task by integrating three significant threads of work: trauma focused research work; practice-generated knowledge about trauma interventions; and the lessons articulated by survivors of traumatic experiences who have had involvement in multiple service sectors. This paper provides a working concept of trauma and a trauma-informed approach with the intent of developing a shared understanding of these concepts that would be acceptable and appropriate across an array of service systems and stakeholder groups.

What are Trauma informed approaches…
Trauma Informed and Trauma Specific Services

From Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse – Trauma-informed Toolkit

Trauma-informed service is a strengths-based service delivery approach where an understanding of trauma is embedded in all aspects of service delivery. Working in a trauma-informed-way places emphasis on safety, service user’s direction, choice and collaboration in decisions affecting one’s treatment. These principles are rooted in organizational policies, procedures and practices in a manner where staff support safety and empowerment of service consumers. Trauma informed services work in ways to accept a person where they are and to avoid working in a manner which can re-traumatize an individual. An important aspect of trauma-informed practice is understanding how trauma can be experienced differently by different groups…for example, by gender, by culture, refugees, people living with developmental disabilities, indigenous peoples, children and youth, and other populations.

Key principles of trauma informed services

  1. Trauma Awareness and training
  2. Emphasis on safety and trustworthiness
  3. Opportunity for choice, collaboration and connection
  4. Strengths- based and skill building

Trauma-specific service explicitly address the need for healing from traumatic life experiences. The focus is on safety and engagement through counselling and other evidence based treatment interventions as a means to facilitate trauma recovery.

Other Trauma Resources and Links

The Manitoba Trauma Information and Education Centre

One of the programs of Klinic Community Health Centre, this website is a source for practical advice, documented solutions and dedicated support in working collaboratively to promote trauma informed relationships and practices. Included is a guide for Organizational Self-Assessment.

The following is a free download on their site and is considered to be an excellent resource on trauma informed care:

Trauma Informed: The Trauma Toolkit

From Trauma Informed – “Given the enormous influence that trauma has on health outcomes, it is important that every health care and human services provider has a basic understanding of trauma, can recognize the symptoms of trauma, and appreciates the role they play in supporting recover most importantly, the people who receive these services benefit from trauma informed approaches.”

Trauma Informed Practice Guide

The Trauma-Informed Practice (TIP) Guide and TIP Organizational Checklist are intended to support the translation of trauma-informed principles into practice.

Trauma-Informed Care and Trauma-Specific Services:
A Comprehensive Approach to Trauma Intervention.

This brief addresses the need for a comprehensive approach to trauma intervention across service settings. It looks at trauma intervention approaches, their core principles and practices, and discusses how they are being integrated across service sectors. Finally, next steps for providers, researchers, and policymakers are identified to ensure that all service systems are prepared to sustain this comprehensive approach to trauma intervention.

Trauma Matters – online version

This guide was developed by the Jean Tweed Centre, in consultation with service providers, experts, and women with lived experience from across Ontario.

Identify Your Local Health Integration Network Area to Identify Services and Supports In Your Area

Mental Health and Addiction community services are generally aligned by the 14 Local Health Integrated Network (LHIN) areas. Knowing the LHIN area where services are needed will be helpful in conducting searches for Mental Health and Addiction resources.

Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), Campus And Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Map

The following chart outlines all Ontario Post-Secondary campuses, their corresponding LHIN, the closest Canadian Mental Health Association and links to other useful services in the area. Your matching LHIN link will allow you to select from a host of health services such as Mental Health that will then bring you into an area that will allow for a more focused search such as community mental health programs:

Algonquin – NepeanChamplainChamplain East
Cambrian – SudburyNorth EastSudbury Manatoulin
Canadore – North BayNorth EastNipissing
Centennial – TorontoCentral EastToronto
College Boreal – SudburyNorth EastSudbury Manatoulin


Conestoga – KitchenerWaterloo/WellingtonWaterloo Wellington Dufferin
Confederation – Thunder BayNorth WestThunder Bay
Durham – OshawaCentral EastDurham
Fanshawe – LondonSouth WestMiddlesex
Fleming – PeterboroughCentral EastHaliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge
George Brown – TorontoToronto CentralToronto
Georgian – BarrieNorth Simcoe MuskokaSimcoe County Branch
Humber – TorontoMississauga HaltonPeel or Toronto

La Cite – OttawaChamplainOttawa
Lambton – SarniaErie St. ClairLambton-Kent
Loyalist – BellevilleSouth EastHastings & Prince Edward
Mohawk – HamiltonHamilton Niagara Haldimand BrantHamilton
Niagara – WellandHamilton Niagara Haldimand BrantNiagara
Northern – TimminsNorth EastCochrane Timiskaming
St. Clair – WindsorErie St. ClairWindsor Essex County
St. Lawrence – KingstonSouth EastKingston
Sault – Sault Ste. MarieNorth EastSault Ste. Marie
Seneca – North YorkCentralToronto
Sheridan – OakvilleMississauga HaltonPeel
Brock – St. CatherinesHamilton Niagara Haldimand BrantNiagara
Carlton – OttawaChamplainOttawa
Lakehead – Thunder BayNorth WestThunder Bay
Laurentian – SudburyNorth EastSudbury Manatoulin
McMaster – HamiltonHamilton Niagara Haldimand BrantHamilton
Nipissing – North BayNorth EastNipissing
OCAD – TorontoToronto CentralToronto
Queen’s – KingstonSouth EastKingston
Royal Military – KingstonSouth EastKingston
Ryerson – TorontoToronto CentralToronto
Trent – PeterboroughCentral EastHaliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge
Guelph – GuelphWaterloo WellingtonWaterloo Wellington Dufferin
U of Hearst – HearstNorth EastCochrane Timiskaming


U of Ontario Institute of Technology – OshawaCentral EastDurham
U of Ottawa – OttawaChamplainOttawa
UT – TorontoToronto CentralToronto
UT Mississauga – MississaugaMississauga
UT Scarborough – ScarboroughCentral
U of Waterloo – WaterlooWaterloo WellingtonWaterloo Wellington
U of Windsor – WindsorErie St. ClairWindsor Essex


Western – LondonSouth WestMiddlesex
Wilfrid Laurier – WaterlooWaterloo WellingtonWaterloo Wellington
York –
Understand the Different Types of Mental Health and Addictions Services

Addictions Services

There is a great variety of services and support in the community for mental health and addictions (MH&A).  The availability, range and breadth of these supports varies from community to community. Understanding the types of supports that can be accessed, and when to use the system, will make your journey so much easier.  Knowing your community MH&A resources will also be a useful tool when you are seeking out community partners with whom to collaborate.

ConnexOntario offers a directory and explanation of the different mental health and addiction service types: Mental Health Services and Drug and Alcohol Services.

Resource Links

More Feet on the Ground

The Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health along with ConnexOntario have created a services inventory of on campus mental health services. This site also provides non clinical staff on campuses the opportunity to 1) recognize some of the mental health issues that their students may be living with and 2) a guideline of how to respond and 3) how to refer students to these services.

Connex Ontario

ConnexOntario Health Services Information is funded by the Government of Ontario and maintains the most comprehensive drug, alcohol, problem gambling, and mental health services database in the province. They provide free and confidential health services information for people experiencing problems with alcohol and drugs, mental illness or gambling and can be accessed 24/7/365.  Students can contact personally to connect them to desired services and supports. ConnexOntario’s website provides information about their services as well as how to contact the service. You can use a search function to find programs across Ontario. Additional supports include:

  • On Campus Supports
    ConnexOntario has 700 + on-campus mental health and addictions services listed in their database. If you are helping a student transfer from your campus to another campus this service can help identify and connect the student to appropriate mental health and addiction services available on the new campus. ConnexOntario can also help students, parents, post-secondary counsellors, and staff navigate the services that are available on their own campus.
  • Off Campus Support
    ConnexOntario can help you help you navigate the mental health and addiction treatment system and locate resources that best meet the needs of students you are assisting.

How to Connect with ConnexOntario

By Phone:

ConnexOntario operates three helplines that provide health services information for people experiencing problems with gambling, drugs or alcohol and mental illness:

  1. Drug and Alcohol Helpline 1-800-565-8603
  2. Mental Health Helpline 1-866-531-2600
  3. Ontario Problem Gambling Helpline 1-888-230-3505

By Webchat:

Information and Referral Specialists can be reached by webchat.  Just click on the relevant Helpline link above which will take you to the website and links for web chat and email.  This is a great option if you prefer to communicate through technology, or if you are trying to multitask, and typing is easier than talking.  Also, many youth prefer online communication, so if you are passing our information along to a student, let them know this option is available!

By Email:

Information and Referral Specialists respond to emails 24/7/365. Email comes into a queue, which guarantees a quick response as it is answered as soon as possible. Click on the relevant Helplink above to take you to the link for email.

Good2Talk – (1-866-925-5454)

Good2Talk is a free, confidential helpline providing professional counselling and information and referrals for mental health, addictions and well-being to post-secondary students in Ontario, 24/7/365.  It is a partnership between four organizations: ConnexOntario, Kids Help Phone, Ontario 211 and the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health, and is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.  1-866-925-5454 or connect through 211. Counselling services are offered in English and French. For students who do not English or French, the Information and Referral Specialists can access a translation service (available in over 170 languages) and refer to resources if they are available in the preferred language

Kids Help Phone  – (1-800-668-6868)

Kids Help Phone has the largest database of youth-serving resources and services in Canada.  As well, it is Canada’s only bilingual phone and online counselling service for youth. It’s free, anonymous and confidential. Professional counsellors are available any time of the day or night, 365 days a year, to help young people deal with concerns large or small.

  • Resources Around Me is a free, interactive tool, available in English and French, through Kids Help Phone’s website to access youth-serving resources and services in Canada.  It allows youth to independently connect with more than 10,500 trusted programs and services in their communities, including mental health services, sexual health services, shelters, legal support, LGBTQ services and culturally-relevant and ethno-specific services.  Resources can be accessed for the following services:
    • Counselling and Mental Health Support
    • Drugs, Alcohol and Gambling Support
    • Housing Support
    • Legal Support
    • Sexual Health
    • Violence and Abuse Support
    • Aboriginal Support Services
    • LGBTQ Support Services


  • Live Chat connects young people to a professional counsellor for real time, one-on-one counselling. It’s message-based so it’s just like texting with a friend, only here youth have the comfort of knowing that, no matter what is written, everything is always confidential. Open Weds through Sunday. Time availability differs by province.


  • BroTalk, a new service specifically designed to support mental and emotional health among teen guys. BroTalk will help address the fact that teen guys are less likely to reach out for help and, when they do, they are less likely to discuss mental and emotional health or suicide and suicide-related issues than teen girls. Teenage guys also engage in high-risk behaviours and die by suicide more frequently than young women. Addressing the root cause of these issues among young men is a key focus for the new service.  Open Weds through Sunday. Time availability differs by province.


  • Tools and Resources:  Read and download tip sheets with hints and advice about some of the most common challenges facing young people today. You can use these tools to help the young people you care about. And hopefully make that conversation a little easier to start. Click on the following subject to access link:

211 Ontario

Is a human service database that offers information and referral 24/7 on a wide range of community, social, non-clinical health and related government services. 211 works in collaboration with seven Regional 211 Service Providers and a unique network of data contributors to deliver information services to Ontario residents. Services are organized by demographic, need, and region.


You also could use some of the following terminologies in your search for a particular need:

Need for Crisis Support

  • Crisis Intervention
  • Distress Centres
  • Suicide Intervention
  • Assault/Abuse
  • Emergency Shelters
  • Victim Services
  • In person crisis services/walk-in clinics
  • Short Term Crisis Beds
  • Mental Health and Justice Short Term Residential Crisis Beds
  • Crisis Stabilization Bed

Need for Counselling or Therapeutic Services (Free or sliding scale)

  • Addiction Counselling/Treatment
  • Mental Health Counselling and Treatment
  • Community Mental Health Programs/Clinics
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
  • Programs listed under types of illnesses/needs…Mood Disorder, Eating, Anxiety, Trauma/Traumatic Stress, Substance Use etc.
  • Community Health Centres
  • Family Health Teams – Mental Health & Addiction Services
  • Child/Youth Mental Health
  • Child and Family Services
  • Transitional Age Youth Programs
  • TAY (Transitional Age Youth) Tele-psychiatry Service

Need for Supported Housing

  • Supportive Housing Mental Health
  • Centralized/Coordinated Access for Housing
  • Support Within Housing
  • Supportive Housing Case Management
  • Rent Supplements
  • Youth Residential Programs
  • Transitional Age Youth Supportive or Supported Housing Need for Peer Support or Self-Help
  • Wellness Recovery Centre
  • Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP)
  • Consumer Peer Support
  • Consumer Survivor Network/Initiative
  • Peer Self Help
  • Support Groups/Associations for various MH illnesses
  • Self-Help Resource Centre

Need for Mental Health Case Management

  • Mental Health Case Management Services
  • Centralized/Coordinated Access
  • Assertive Community Treatment Team
  • Early Psychosis Intervention
  • Justice Community Support Program
  • Mental Health and Justice
  • Court Diversion Services
  • Transitional Age Youth Services
  • Youth Mental Health Court Program
  • Community Health Centres

Need for Addiction Services

  • Addiction Case Management
  • Centralized/Coordinated Access
  • Withdrawal Management
  • Detox Centre/Programs
  • Addiction Assessment and Treatment
  • Concurrent Disorder Programs
  • Youth Addiction/Concurrent Disorder Program
  • Community Health Centres

Need for Assessment

  • Psychiatric Consultation or Assessment
  • Family Health Team Services
  • Outpatient hospital mental health services
  • Community Health Centres
  • Family Doctor or General Practitioner

Need for Employment

  • Youth Employment Programs
  • Student Employment Centres
  • Job Coaching
  • Transitional Age Youth Programs
  • Alternative Businesses

Need for Allied Health and Complementary Supports

  • Spiritual Leaders – see Challenges & Choices: Finding Mental Health Services in Ontario p. 53-54
  • Elders – Aboriginal Elders, Healers and Teachers
  • Private Therapists – see Challenges & Choices: Finding Mental Health Services in Ontario p. 28 – 41
  • Naturopaths
  • Dietitians
Be Aware of the Targeted Services for Specific Populations

Generally, requesting any of the following terms with the type of service needed (e.g., housing, mental health, addictions etc) will find results:

Indigenous Mental Health Services

  • Aboriginal Mental Health Services
  • Native Family or Native Centres
  • First Nation Mental Health or Addiction Programs

Resource Link:

Multicultural/ Newcomers

  • MultiCultural Mental Health Services
  • Newcomer Youth and Family Services
  • Mental Health Services (naming specific cultural group)

Resource Links:


  • 2SLGBTQQIPAA (Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Pansexual, Asexual, Allies) services.

 Resource Links:

Understand the Mental Health Act – When to Use Hospitals Services

Mental Health and Addiction Legislation

 Mental Health Act 1990

The Mental Health Act sets out the criteria for voluntary, informal and involuntary admissions to specially designated psychiatric facilities, as well as for the management of psychiatric out-patients under Community Treatment Orders (CTO). The statute also requires the assessment of psychiatric patients’ capacity to manage property following their admission to a psychiatric facility. The statute protects the rights of psychiatric patients by requiring that patients receive formal rights advice in certain circumstances and providing for the review of informal and involuntary admissions, capacity to manage property and CTOs before the Consent and Capacity Board.


Brian’s Law (Bill 68)

Brian’s Law amended the Mental Health Act in 2000. In particular, this legislation introduced community treatment orders and new criteria for involuntary commitment to psychiatric facilities. The latest amendment took place in 2010 under Bill 16, Creating the Foundation for Jobs and Growth Act, 2010.

Health Care Consent Act 1996 (amended 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010)

The Health Care Consent Act deals with

  • guidelines for informed consent for treatment, personal care services or admission to
    a long-term care facility
  • the roles and responsibilities of substitute decision-makers


List of Common  Forms

The Emergency Room (ER) – when it should be utilized (from Here to Help)

These are situations when immediate help (calling 911 or going to the ER) is required for a person that is:

  • Thinking about ending their life or trying to end their life
  • Experiencing sensations that aren’t real and/or beliefs that can’t possibly be true
  • Making choices that put them in serious danger
  • Becoming unable to care for them self, and it’s putting them at risk of serious harm
  • Experiencing medication problems like serious side effects
  • Experiencing an alcohol or any other drug overdose
  • Taking a dangerous combination of substances (like anti-anxiety medication and alcohol)

Note: If you call 911, don’t leave anyone alone before emergency responders arrive.
Wait until emergency responders say you can leave

Hospital Services

Most hospitals have mental health services which may include Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Social Workers and other professionals. Programs offered typically include:

  • Inpatient services – types of services vary for each hospital but generally are geared to short term admissions for crisis stabilization, assessments of a variety of mental health areas and coordination with community resources for follow up treatment and community support after discharge.
  • Outpatient services – where one comes to the hospital for mental health services. Services can vary for each hospital although generally there are resources for assessment and treatment, day programs, therapeutic services, urgent care clinic, addiction treatment
  • Day treatment, or partial hospitalization programs, where a person comes for treatment for longer periods or more frequently, for more intensive therapy than one would receive from simply seeing an outpatient therapist or clinician
  • Outreach -where a person may receive support and treatment from a hospital mental health  outreach team


Other Resource Links:

Use Web Based Mental Health Resources

Online learning and interactive technology are becoming popular “alternative” ways of delivering information and training. Listed are some resources that offer evidence-based or promising practice materials, tools and resources:

 Evidence Exchange Network (EENet)

Located at the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health , EENet is a mental health and addictions knowledge exchange network that connects stakeholders across Ontario. The network promotes the use of research evidence in decision-making, develops targeted knowledge translation products and tools, and supports interactive exchanges. Some cool features of EENet Connect include a calendar of events, webinars, and workshops; an interactive map that shows where stakeholders are located and what they’re doing; and discussion forums to continue the dialogue among members and connect them with each other. is the only national network of young leaders transforming the way we think about mental health. With initiatives and programs designed with the input of young people at every step, their goals is to end stigma in our generation.  Healthy Minds Canada merged with Jack. org in 2017.



mindyourmind  is a youth (age 14-24) mental health and engagement program that works in partnership with youth, emerging adults and the professionals who serve them to co-develop innovative tools and resources. These resources are designed to promote wellness, reduce stigma, and increase access to community supports, both professional and peer-based. Through the use of active engagement, best practice and technology, mindyourmind inspires youth to reach out, get help and give help.


Multicultural Mental Health Resource Centre

The Multicultural Mental Health Resource Centre (MMHRC) seeks to improve the quality and availability of mental health services for people from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds, including immigrants, refugees, and members of established ethnocultural communities. Addressing issues of language, culture, religion and other aspects of cultural diversity can promote greater equity in mental health care.


Portico is a network of addiction and mental health sites from across Canada. The site offers clinical tools and evidence-based materials for health care providers, social service workers and others. While the resources on the core Portico pages are designed for professional use, they can be of equal interest to those with lived experience and their families.


Practice Good Self Care – Vicarious Trauma and Compassion Fatigue

What is Vicarious Trauma and Compassion Fatigue?

Compassion Fatigue (CF) refers to the profound emotional and physical erosion that takes place when helpers are unable to refuel and regenerate.

Vicarious Trauma (VT) was coined by Perlman & Saakvitne (1995) to describe the profound shift in world view that occurs in helping professionals when they work with clients who have experienced trauma: helpers notice that their fundamental beliefs about the world are altered and possibly damaged by being repeatedly exposed to traumatic material.

Over time these processes can lead to changes in your own psychological, physical and spiritual well-being. They are emotional phenomenon that can happen to some workers over time as they hear distressing stories about cruelty and loss, day after day, and year after year.


The following information may help you to recognize the impact your work is having on you and to think about how to protect and care for yourself while doing that work.


It is often standard for clinical and medical professionals to empathize with people who are hurting. At the same time it is very important for you to recognize when you are overly-identifying with people who have endured terrible things.  When you allow yourself to be drawn in too deep into the pain of others, you may bring their grief, fear, anger and despair into your own awareness and consciousness. Over time, vicarious trauma will lead to changes in your own psychological and spiritual well-being.


For example you may find yourself taking it personally when your work or the work of your organization doesn’t have the impact you want.

So, What Should You Do About it? Stop Caring?

Simply understanding more about compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma is a great first step. The correct information will help you understand there are ways to do something about preventing Vicarious Trauma and/or ways to overcome it.


Signs and Symptoms of VT

  • Difficulty managing your emotions
  • Difficulty accepting feeling okay about yourself
  • Difficulty making good decisions
  • Problems managing boundaries between yourself and others (e.g. taking on too much responsibility, having difficulty leaving work at the end of the day, trying to step in and control other’s lives.)
  • Problems in relationships
  • Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
  • Physical problems such as aches & pains, illnesses, accidents.
  • Difficulty feeling connected to what’s going on around and within you, and
  • Loss of meaning and hope 

Unaddressed vicarious trauma also affects your family, your organization, your co-workers and those you are working to help. It affects the quality of assistance being provided to your clients. Coping with vicarious trauma means identifying strategies that can both help prevent VT from becoming severe and can help manage VT during times when it is more problematic.


Self Care Methods

A stress-free life is hard to achieve, however, there is much you can do to help prevent and alleviate your reactions to stress. No single technique will relieve all your stress, but paying attention to the following three areas of self-care may build up your hardiness (your ability to handle more stress with less distress) and your resilience (your ability to “bounce back” after particularly stressful or traumatic events).



  • Regular exercise
  • Sleep
  • Healthy eating
  • Drinking enough water
  • Humour and laughter
  • Limit your consumption of alcohol
  • Pilates or yoga
  • Relaxation techniques (such as progressive muscle relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing, visualization and meditation)
  • Massage, whirlpool, sauna
  • Repetitive activities (such as cross-stitching, walking, quilting, drawing and cooking)


Emotional and Relational

  • Nurturing relationships
  • Contact with home/friends through email, phone, tapes
  • Talking
  • Humour
  • Ongoing support groups
  • Reflection: journaling, writing, meditating, poetry
  • Creative activities such as drawing, sculpting, cooking, painting and photography
  • Movies, books, music
  • Having balanced priorities
  • Understanding traumatic stress and have realistic expectations
  • Counselling



  • Knowing your values: Where do you tend to find meaning and purpose in life?
  • Participating in a community of meaning and purpose
  • Regular times of prayer, reading, meditation
  • Singing or listening to meaningful music
  • Contact with inspiring individuals
  • Time with art, nature or music
  • Solitude