“Helping Them Help Themselves”

The theme of facilitating growth and development was the main focus of the latest Grand Rounds presentation made by Dr. Shanti Fernando and Dr. Alyson King from UOIT.

Highlighting a study on the Ontario Shores Supported Education Program (OSSEP), Dr. Fernando reminded the group that community development is directly linked to literacy and adult education. “Further, mental illness is a community development issue,” added Dr. Fernando.

OSSEP’s aim is to connect mental health and accessibility to education and to community development, which will in turn result in improved quality of life.  Adult education is transformative in nature and is a key building block of community development.

Adult education is even more relevant to people living with a mental illness.  The study suggests that mental illness might affect a person in their prime learning years and as such may affect their ability to earn a living. “Participants in OSSEP may find that their ability to develop capability is hampered by lack of education and access to literacy,” shares both Dr. Fernando and Dr. King.

OSSEP provided a step to build freedom and a way for the participants to live an independent life.

In a study of OSSEP participants, it was discovered that 52.2 percent of the responders felt that mental health was a barrier to education, while learning disabilities was identified by 34.8 percent as a barrier.

The study also highlighted that the participants in OSSEP reported increased confidence and independence and a strong feeling that they will eventually reach their goals.  They also noted that while their skills improved, they also benefited from socialization and encouragement, increased self-discipline and a support network that created a culture of hope and persistence.

The overall objective of OSSEP is to meet the short to long term goals for people living with a mental illness.