Karim Mamdani

Ontario Shores

Karima Velji

Sanaz Riahi

#NVW2021 - 'I am making a difference in the lives of people who struggle with mental illness'

I joined the volunteer team at Ontario Shores without realizing how impactful the experience would be on my personal life.

I began volunteering during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Gift Shop, Drop-in Centre and at Coffee Hour. The pandemic has had an impact on my own mental health due to the social restrictions, but being able to come to the hospital and share stories with the patients was a great experience that helped uplift my spirits.

I am currently enrolled in the social psychology program at McMaster University with a minor in mental health which is what first attracted me to joining the team at Ontario Shores.

My experience working as a volunteer has helped advance my professional career through my hands-on experience in my field of work. Currently, I am working as a moderator for the Mental Health First-Aid online course at Ontario Shores which focuses on providing skills and education to people to help them manage mental health crises in themselves, a family member, a friend or a colleague.

This is very important to me because the course helps increase awareness of the signs and symptoms of mental health problems while decreasing the stigma related to these issues. The program allows educators to gain confidence in treating someone who may be experiencing a mental health crisis and ultimately provide the person with the help they need.

This opportunity has allowed me to gain experience in the education of mental illness and become more involved in advocating for positive mental health. I feel privileged to know that I am making a difference in the lives of people who struggle with mental illness. My experience at Ontario Shores has been very rewarding. The hospital has a great outlook on mental health and recovery and offers an extremely positive work environment and atmosphere that I am incredibly proud to be a part of.

I encourage others in the community to join the volunteer team at Ontario Shores. The experience provides opportunities and it’s important to support people living with mental illness and let them know they are never alone. I want to continue to make a positive difference in the lives of others on their road to recovery.