Opportunities to socialize and a sense of connection are important for mental health and healthy aging. Unfortunately, many seniors in our community struggle with isolation and loneliness, increasing their vulnerability to depression and disability. The Canadian Mental Health Association, Kelowna (CMHA Kelowna), has teamed up with Kelowna Community Resources and several other organizations in the central Okanagan to provide outreach for older adults.
“Our goal is to provide mental health education training to 100 staff members and volunteers at key agencies who will be able to match at least 60 older adults with a trained outreach volunteer,” says Alison Kyte, Wellness Programs and Education Manager at CMHA Kelowna.
“Wise & Well: Building Mental Fitness for Older Adults” is an 18-month project that will provide volunteers, including a team of UBC Okanagan Master of Social Work students, with the knowledge and training they need to effectively support seniors in a way that is sensitive to age and culture. Volunteers will take courses such as Mental Health First Aid, Mental Fitness, and ASIST or safeTALK suicide intervention trainings.
“We are proud to participate in the Wise & Well project,” says Dr. John Graham, Director of the School of Social Work at UBC Okanagan, “this will be a great opportunity for our students to receive professional development and experience while making a difference locally.”
Partners from Peachland, West Kelowna, Kelowna, and Lake Country will then match the volunteers to older adults. Together, they will look for opportunities to attend local social groups to build meaningful connections and social networks that can continue long after the project ends.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, or if you know (or are) an older adult who would be interested in receiving support, please contact one of the following agencies in your community:
Peachland Wellness Centre: 250-767-0131
Westside Health Network: 250-768-3305
Seniors Outreach Services (Kelowna): 250-861-6180
Kelowna Community Resources, Immigrant Services: 250-763-8008
Lake Country Health Planning: 778-215-5247
The Community Action Initiative has provided funding for this project. You can learn more by clicking here.