Our Storm Clouds & Silver Linings series tells stories of some Nova Scotia nonprofit organizations and how they’re rising up to meet the very real and profound challenges and opportunities for innovation during COVID-19. These stories are a snap-shot in time taken before the reopening process started.
Healthy Minds Cooperative
Interview with Executive Director, Lynn Yetman
COVID-19 is challenging how the Healthy Minds Cooperative (HMC) serves clients living with mental health and/or addiction issues. Deteriorating mental health in the population during the pandemic is creating additional challenges.
“Isolation and loneliness are key factors to mental health and addiction related issues,” says Lynn Yetman, HMC Executive Director. “With libraries closed, many of our clients are even more isolated as they have no access to our online services via computers.”
“Healthy Minds provides prevention and maintenance support to improve all over wellness,” Yetman relates. “We rely 100% on grant money, donations, and fundraising activities to meet the growing need for mental health and addiction support, our services are provided at no cost to clients.”
Being a nonprofit, Healthy Minds, still operates like a business. Paying rent, taxes, and doing remittances. Yetman points out that she has anxiety about increased pressure to become less reliant on government funding, which is impossible if they deliver free services to individual in need of support. As she says, “Nothing replaces the positive impact of one-on-one personal interaction or group work to combat isolation and loneliness and we need space to deliver this support.”
“I valued the group setting, knowing that I am not alone in my struggles." - Past Participant
“Twice monthly an HMC navigator leads free public, anonymous Men’s Mental Health Peer Support Group sessions at Job Junction. The feedback is overwhelmingly positive. Knowing they can come when able, encourages attendance by those reluctant to seek mental health and group services.” - Service provider
With one full-time position now gone, two full-time and two part-time staff are working from home with consults conducted by calls, Zoom and other technology platforms. Supporting staff through the challenges from working at home is paramount to Yetman. “We meet virtually weekly to support each other,” she relates. “Added to our feelings of isolation as we support clients who feel the world falling in around them, from a management perspective, I have a responsibility to ensure that, as a staff, we are doing okay, too.”