Addressing loneliness: Guelph CHC to increase social prescribing efforts with new grant
April 19, 2023
The Guelph Community Health Center (Guelph CHC) will expand its capacity for community programs, thanks to a grant from the Public Health Agency of Canada for its Social prescribing for better mental health project. The funding will support Guelph CHC to expand on a pilot program in social prescribing that concluded in March 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Social prescribing connects health care with non-medical supports that improve a person’s wellness by improving their sense of belonging and reducing social isolation and loneliness.
Lloyd Longfield, Member of Parliament for Guelph, notes “Connecting with the community, providing supports and enabling people to improve their own mental health and well being is an important part of social prescribing. This funding from the Government of Canada will improve our capacity to promote and advance our mental health outcomes for those who are dealing with mental health challenges and are experiencing barriers to better health and wellness.”
“Guelph CHC provides health care and wraparound supports such as programs for community members who face barriers to their health and wellbeing, and we know our clients have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Karrie Cumming, Health Promoter, Guelph CHC. “With this funding, we will work to develop a stronger sense of community and build protective factors for good mental health.”
In 2022 anxiety and depression were the 2nd and 3rd most common issues addressed by Guelph CHC’s primary care providers. Referrals to the Centre’s social work team have increased dramatically.
“Too many of our community members are lonely and feeling isolated, and that can have a negative impact on their physical and mental health,” says Cumming. “We are grateful for this funding that will allow us to expand our peer volunteer program, reach out to clients with unmet social needs and support the launch of new programs that will contribute to decreasing loneliness, isolation and moderate mental health challenges that so many of our clients are reporting.”
Guelph CHC currently runs some social programs such as fitness classes, virtual social groups and nutrition workshops and Cumming says Guelph CHC is gradually rebuilding programming offered prior to the pandemic. The new funding will allow them to expand programming to include a new drop-in board game program, social groups, and monthly workshops, among other programs.
The Social Prescribing for Better Mental Health Project includes funding for 28 Ontario-based community health centres, Indigenous Primary Healthcare Organizations, Nurse Practitioner-led Clinics and Community-governed Family Health Teams to support the implementation of social prescribing initiatives and enhance community-based mental health promotion programs. Funding recipients, including Guelph CHC, are members of the Alliance for Healthier Communities.
Director of Community Programs and Development