2019 at The Healing Collective was our first full year in operation. It went by impossibly fast and slow, all at the same time. It was a hard year for many people. It was a year of uncertainty and cuts and increased awareness of climate change. The news was (and is) increasingly hard to watch. As a society, we’re anxious, generally, and acutely.
It was also the year where (at least we think and hope) the scale really started to tip around mental health awareness and de-stigmatization. We watched social media influencers begin to really talk about mental health and body image in an open and present way, and then other people did too. Lizzo blew up (we saw her in concert; Abby twice). We watched people tag us in social media after therapy sessions, talking about what a valuable part of their lives therapy was. People quietly messaged us and told us that their therapists at The Healing Collective had changed their lives; helped their families; saved their marriages.
Unfortunately, this was also a year where a lot of mental health services have felt the strain of increasing need, cuts, and a lack of resources. A lot of mental health professionals don’t have the resources through their agencies to do the work they know needs to be done. They are burnt out, tired of requesting resources that take too long, or never come. Most are limited by not being able to provide enough sessions to help in a long-lasting way, and at the same time, know the waitlists demand this. People who dedicate their lives to mental health supports are a special breed. They love what they do, even though it’s hard and deep and real in ways those outside the profession can’t imagine.
Being able to support this effort is an honour, every day.
We welcomed a number of new practitioners in 2019, and continue to attempt to fill our space with people that we feel reflect the incredible community we live in. It’s been such an honour, helping them grow their practices to a space where they’re able to support the people that mean the most to them.
We welcomed many new clients this year as well. This was likely a result of us being more known, but there are other factors, too. The normalization of mental health challenges and going to therapy have meant that more people who can benefit from therapy are seeking services, and this is a huge, important shift in the conversation around our mental health being important. This is a conversation that keeps us at our work every day. It’s the conversation that keeps our therapists engaged in their practices and taking on new clients and upgrading their skills to reflect the needs of their clients. We don’t track stats, but a rough estimate would be that we had about 2000 hours of therapy at Healing Collective in 2019.
We’ve also been providing our practitioners with additional training opportunities to continue to ensure we’re the best fit for our community. We started the year with an amazing Trans awareness training through The Rainbow Health Organization and had Indigenous competency training with Emily Blackmoon, who we’re lucky to have practicing in our space every week. Later in the year, we coordinated a marketing workshop with Lisa McGrath, which left our team energized and motivated to find ways to put their practices and skills out there in a genuine way. Olivia Scobie has been doing a workshop series on parenting and maternal mental health that we’re so appreciative of, and that our practitioners have found a lot of value in.
There is a need for more accessible mental health services. Spaces like ours complement what exists, but the need for shorter wait-lists and more low cost or free supports are something worth advocating for at every opportunity.
We took over the entire of 2005 Danforth in April, and in the summer added a couple of new rooms to the space, bringing us to a grand total of eight. Last year, we also reached out to someone we wanted to work with about running a complementary, but unique and independent shop in the front of our space, and were amazed to watch Lost + Found come together over last spring and summer, and open in the fall. If you haven’t been to Lost + Found yet, it’s worth the trip. It’s a beautiful bright, thoughtful endeavor with an incredible amount of heart. A rainbow for people immersed in a storm cloud (or those who are storm cloud adjacent). In the last few months, we’ve excitedly watched their business grow and thrive, and we look forward to seeing big things from this crew in 2020 in the wellness space.
In 2020, we’d like to open up our group room in a more significant way. If you have a practice aligned with mental health and wellness and you’d like to run an event, please be in touch with us. We’d love to find a way to work together. If you’ve got a great idea for a fundraiser, we’d like to work with you on that too. In line with our commitment to anti-racist work, we are eager to donate the space to projects that center BIPOC. In the same vein, we donated space to 2SILGBTQ community members in honour of Pride - and are still actively seeking people who want to utilize the space to do this important work. In 2020, we’re excited to have Alejandra Lindan offering a number of free therapy spaces to youth in need, and we’d like to find ways to fund more of these opportunities in the future.
If 2020 is the year you’ve decided to seek mental health support, we can promise you a few things. Firstly, you won’t be alone. The world is a hard place right now, and an increasing number of people are struggling to cope. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness, or inadequacy, but one of self-awareness and strength. Secondly, you’ve made a hard decision, but the outcomes of that decision will change your life, and impact the lives of those around you. Finally, and most importantly, we are committed more than ever to offer accessible services to the community. Please reach out if you feel that full-fee private therapy is beyond your reach, and we will see what we can do to support you.
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