About Self Help & Peer Support
Self Help & Peer Support services are provided by people who experience a mental health and/or addiction issue for people who experience a mental health and/or addictions issue. Our services are part of CMHA Waterloo Wellington.
Services offered at our three sites include:
- Walk-in peer support and recovery groups. People are welcome to join at any time, with no registration or wait list. See our calendars for group offerings
- 1:1 peer support delivered by trained peer support staff and volunteers
- Leadership and mentoring opportunities for people who wish to learn about providing peer support
- Entrepreneurship support
- Community outreach
- Spark of Brilliance, expressive arts workshops
- Beautiful Minds program for secondary school students
The History of Self Help & Peer Support
In the late 1980’s, numerous Consumer Survivor Initiatives (CSI) were established across Ontario. These groups were mainly support by the Ontario Ministry of Health, as a contribution towards local mental health organizations.
In the Waterloo and Wellington areas, four CSI organizations were created: Cambridge Active Self Help (CASH), Depressive/Manic Depressive Association of W.R. (DMDAWR), Mutual Aid for Psychiatric Survivors (MAPS), and Waterloo Region Self Help (WRSH).
By 2000, many CSI’s across Ontario had disappeared or were facing uncertain futures. These issues led to discussions about local and creative funding.
In 2003, the four groups in the Waterloo and Wellington areas decided to form the Self Help Alliance in order to share staffing and resources. At this time, 2 of the 4 organizations had changed their names. DMDAWR became Mood Disorders Association Waterloo Region (MDAWR), while maps was now referred to as Wellington-Dufferin Self Help (WDSH). As this alliance proved to be very beneficial to the four organizations, in 2009 the decision was made to merge formally. Therefore, on June 22, 2009 the Self Help Alliance Waterloo Wellington became officially incorporated.
As of April 1, 2013 the Self Help services formally joined the new Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington Branch, becoming Self Help & Peer Support in December of 2017. We believe this partnership will further see the enhancement and system support for peer roles within every juncture of the Addiction and Mental Health System.
The History of the Canadian Mental Health Association
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), founded in 1918, is one of the oldest voluntary organizations in Canada. Each year, we provide direct service to more than 100,000 Canadians through the combined efforts of more than 10,000 volunteers and staff across Canada in over 120 communities.
As a nation-wide, voluntary organization, the Canadian Mental Health Association promotes the mental health of all and supports the resilience and recovery of people experiencing mental illness. The CMHA accomplishes this mission through advocacy, education, research and service.
CMHA branches across Canada provide a wide range of innovative services and supports to people who are experiencing mental illness and their families. These services are tailored to the needs and resources of the communities where they are based. One of the core goals of these services is to help people with mental illness develop the personal tools to lead meaningful and productive lives.