By Yeena Peng

For patients and clients with mental health challenges, often time ‘getting there is half the battle’.

There, in this case, is group therapy – otherwise known as group.

However, Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH) has made that battle much easier, by officially opening a new Wellness Clinic, which provides mental health programs and services outside of the hospital setting, making care more accessible for patients and clients.

Located on Wootten Way North, in Markham, the new clinic boasts a 3,000 square foot site that features two bright and spacious rooms equipped with large screens for group therapy sessions, four offices where one-on-one client care can take place, and a welcoming reception area.

The new clinic is home to the BRIDGE program and the Women’s Wellness Clinic.

The BRIDGE program is an adult day treatment program that offers group therapy five days a week for 12 consecutive weeks. Group sessions include topics such as coping strategies, recovery, stress management, yoga and art therapy, goal setting and more.

Using different methods, the Women’s Wellness Clinic aims to improve women’s sense of personal wellbeing, strengthen focus and mental flexibility, manage difficult emotions, promote self-awareness and distinguish healthy from unhealthy coping.

“The new home for the BRIDGE program has enhanced accessibility for patients and broken down barriers,” says Teresa Wong, Patient Care Manager, Outpatient Mental Health at MSH. “It is a literal ‘bridge’ back into the community for them. The clients love the new space and location; they feel like it’s their own. Hanging proudly on the walls of the new clinic is the art created by patients in the art therapy group.”

An interprofessional team of occupational therapists, social workers and social service workers that specialize in mental health and addictions staff the clinic. The team uses a holistic approach that focuses on strategies to reintegrate patients back into the community.

Christina Morino is a person with lived experience and is one of the first clients enrolled in the women’s wellness services, when they were located in the hospital. She remembers a time when she had to travel to the hospital, line-up at the main registration to get a wristband and finally, walk across the hospital just to get to group. Today, clients simply enter the new MSH Wellness Clinic – a clinic that is now housed in a facility that mirrors the holistic therapy clients receive.

“A location, like this, outside of the hospital campus speaks volumes to me about client-centred care,” Morino says. “With so much stigma still surrounding mental health issues/illness, I personally think it is wonderful to have a resource located right here in the community.”

The MSH Wellness Clinic opened its doors to clients in late 2019. The hospital officially celebrated its opening in January 2020.

The MSH Wellness Clinic is made possible through the work of MSH Foundation and by the generous support of Shoppers Drug Mart and TD Bank Group. In honour of their generosity, the hospital has named the Shoppers Drug Mart Wellness Rooms and the TD Bank Group Reception within the MSH Wellness Clinic.

Photo: Art therapy demonstration at the official opening celebration of the Markham Stouffville Hospital Wellness Clinic.

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