We are aware that addictions and mental health issues are concerns in our community. As such, we grateful for the opportunity to add to our mental health supports for students and families, focusing on those who are impacted by addictions and substance abuse in middle and high schools. Through a partnership with Our Collective Journey (OCJ) our schools will have access to recovery coaches. This initiative is part of an evolving plan to address mental health and wellness in MHPSD.
A recovery coach is a trained, motivated, heart driven human who has made their way through the struggle of addiction and can share their lived experience. Recovery coaches bring a unique combination of lived experience, skills, and training which helps them to create a message that resonates with a variety of people.
Coaches will work with staff to improve their understanding of how addictions can impact our students, families and community. Recovery coaches will be available to share their experience with students in age appropriate ways, delivering presentations about addictions & substance abuse. The goal is to create a connection, instill a feeling of hope and build resiliency, to support a healthy future for youth. This approach helps students to feel like they are not alone when they can see that someone else has gone through something similar. Anyone in our MHPSD family who is impacted by addictions and substance abuse can meet individually with a recovery coach.
Coaches will not provide therapy or intervention, rather they will listen empathetically without judgement. Coaches are not Family School Liaison Workers, counsellors, therapists, crisis workers, etc. Coaches support relationship building, harm reduction, behaviour change and system navigation; acting as pathfinders. They provide a place to get useful information and develop connections to other school supports and community agencies that can help them long term. We want students to feel comfortable sharing their story with a safe and caring adult, to develop meaningful relationships and start setting goals.
Made possible by AB Education Grant funding (Enhanced Mental Health Continuum of Supports and Services in Schools), this unique approach is intended to build relationships and create a pathway to additional supports. The purpose of the grant is to build partnerships between school jurisdictions and local agencies to provide unique mental health services to students in MHPSD. The unique, grassroots, community based nature of OCJ removes barriers, making their services easier to access and more responsive.
Our Collective Journey (OCJ) Background: OCJ started 3 years ago as a response to the mental health crisis impacting our community. Members of OCJ have lived experience that gives them the innate ability to connect with individuals experiencing similar situations, reassuring them that they are not alone. Systems are often at capacity, leading to lengthy wait times or often the individual is not ready to seek professional support at all. This is where OCJ is able to take action, fill gaps, and immediately offer support on their journey; the recovery coach program encompasses these.
OCJ Recovery Coaches (RC) must complete 40-hour intensive RC training from a training provider that is recognized by the Canadian Addiction Counselling Certification Federation (CACCF). Once training is complete, coaches attend a monthly Recovery Coach Community Meeting online, along with weekly supervised practice sessions in-house, to continue honing their skillsets. The training providers that OCJ utilizes are Optimal Recovery Coaching Associates and CCAR, you can check out their programs using the following link:
The school team of Recovery Coaches has combined training in the following areas:
CCAR Recovery Coach Training. Addiction Community Service Worker. Management Skills for Supervisors. Art and Science of being an Effective Team Leader. Motivational Interviewing & Assertive Engagement Training. Ethics Course. Trauma Informed Care. Compassion and Fatigue Training. ASIST Training. Non-Violent De-Escalation Training. Crisis Intervention Training. FOIP Training. Registered Social Worker Degree. Child Psychology Course. The Psychology of Drugs and Behaviour Course. Psychology of Families & Parenting Course. Ethics in Addictions Counselling Training. Understanding Adolescents & Addiction Training. Addiction & Concurrent Disorders Training. Trauma Responsive Care. Adolescent Development Course. The Brain Story certification.
"I just want to say that your personal stories really made me realize that there are always people that care and are willing to help. It really changed my perspective. I just wanted to say thanks. - From a student at MHCS"
"Good job guys! You connected with us in different ways and show those who are going through something that there are more people out there that had suffered. - From a student at MHCS"
"Hey, you guys did amazing and I just wanted to tell you that even though our class is quiet, we really appreciated you coming in and talking to us. - from the Christian school"
"I really appreciated the message in our class today at the Christian School! It was really great hearing someone who has struggled with drug abuses story and really helped me understand the position some people are in without even knowing it. - from the Christian school""
*criminal record check and the vulnerable sector screening are mandatory for all OCJ Recovery Coaches.
**all OCJ Recovery Coaches are under supervision of OCJ Director of Programming who is a CACCF certified Addiction Counsellor and CACCF certified Recovery Coach. Each coach is bound by CACCF code of ethics and follows FOIP requirements.