What is the Partnership Program
The Partnership Program was initially developed by the Schizophrenia Society in Vancouver B.C. in the mid 1990’s and eventually spread across Canada. The provincial office of the Schizophrenia Society of Saskatchewan in Regina developed a Partnership Program in early 1998. A Partnership Program team was formed in Saskatoon in early 1999. An official rural Partnership Program team was started in 2017. Presentations also given via Webex began as a further option for presenting in 2019. The Partnership Program is a public awareness program designed to inform people about schizophrenia and related psychosis.
The Partnership Program has reached a major milestone as we have given presentations over 5,000 presentations to over 100,000 people throughout Saskatchewan. As of December of 2019 5,191 presentations have been given to 137,397 people throughout Saskatchewan since the Partnership Program began.
The Schizophrenia Society of Saskatchewan’s Partnership Program is essentially a “Stigma Busters” public awareness program. The Partnership Program shares stories of recovery from schizophrenia and related psychosis with the general public. Our goals are to promote recovery from schizophrenia and related mental illnesses and to reduce the stigma and misconceptions associated with mental health disorders. The Partnership Program puts a positive face of recovery at the forefront of mental illness dispelling the myths and fears the general public has. It also informs the public on how to seek treatment and services.
The Partnership Program showcases people with various related mental illnesses working as equals with family members of people with mental health disorders, and health care professionals. Each presentation consists of a person directly affected by schizophrenia, a family member, and a health care professional. In addition to this there are people directly affected by related mental health disorders, including bipolar disorder and depression, presenting with our panel. We currently have 100 volunteers presenting for the Partnership Program.
A standard presentation takes approximately one hour. This includes a three to four person panel. Firstly, a person affected by schizophrenia and/or a related mental illness shares their story of recovery. Secondly, a family member of a person living with mental illness shares how the family unit is affected. Thirdly, a mental health professional provides the facts surrounding schizophrenia and related disorders. The audience is encouraged to interact with our panel and ask questions. Literature if provided for all those in attendance. A brief anonymous survey is completed by our audience members.
The Partnership Program often provides longer presentations taking approximately 90 minutes to two hours for university and college audiences or any group requesting additional information. This includes a larger panel of speakers and provides a more thorough look into mental illness.
Our first target audience is youth in the Public and Catholic high school systems as schizophrenia and other mental illnesses often strike during the teen years. Numerous presentations are given to police officers, R.C.M.P., security guards, justice and corrections, service and health care providers, numerous colleges and departments at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Regina including nursing, medicine, social work, psychology and kinesiology, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Saskatoon Indian Institute of Technology, corporations and businesses, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres, care homes, seniors groups, church and ministry groups, community service agencies, immigration programs, homeless shelters, mental health hospitals, and to clients and family members directly affected by mental illness. A general mental health presentation is also provided for children in elementary schools.
Each presentation is geared towards the particular audience we are presenting to so our presentations are made appropriate to the age level we are presenting to. Relevant information is provided to each audience making it useful for all those in attendance. Follow up presentations are also given to groups requiring further information.
Presentations are often given in smaller communities and rural areas outside of Regina and Saskatoon. However, our hosts are asked to help cover our accommodations and travel costs in these circumstances. A DVD featuring all perspectives is mailed to audiences in the rare instance that we are unable travel to along with a package of information.
In 2012 the Partnership Program was asked to do a pilot project on depression at our presentations in high schools. People directly affected by depression presented along-side those directly affected by schizophrenia. This broad approach was widely appreciated by students and teachers alike. We are currently continuing to include people directly affected by our presentations. People directly affected by bipolar disorder have also been presenting along-side those affected by schizophrenia for several years at colleges and universities as well as drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres.
The Partnership Program is the most effective way to provide a well rounded presentation on mental illness. It builds the clients’ self esteem and gives participants a sense of empowerment. It also promotes peer interaction, support, and advocacy among its members. It provides the general public with useful, accurate, and updated information. It reduces public fear in regards to seeking treatment and accessing services.