Month: January 2014

Bell Let’s Talk!


In honour of the Bell Let’s Talk campaign, a few of the staff, volunteers, and a few patients at the mental hospital came together for lunch today. It was held in a conference room, and was decorated with campaign ads. Not to mention, great food as well!

Around my table were a few of my fellow volunteers. However, a patient sat beside me by the name of Michael. He seemed content and kind, and we had a good conversation. He said he suffers from bipolar disorder, but was undergoing treatment. He told me he just had a treatment right before the event today.

It was a coincidence that we met, as I later learned that I will be volunteering with his doctors and him. About a couple of hours a day, I will be watching his behaviour and writing down what I see and learn.

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Smoking: A Bad Habit

Hi Alyssa,
I’ve been a heavy smoker for many years now. I want to quit but it’s very hard to. This habit has been an ongoing problem and is now affecting my friends and family. They are breathing in my scent, which is not good and it’s a danger for all of us. I consider myself to be pretty healthy (I’m a pretty young person). But I know that down the road, I may suffer. 

Bad Habit Smoker

Hi Bad Habit Smoker,
I understand that quitting smoking or any bad habit is difficult. However, if you start now and begin a slow process of healing, you will meet your goal. You cannot heal yourself over night, it takes time. 
Smoking is more than a physical illness, but also a mental illness. You should seek a mental professional to help you. 
Have you tried Nicorette or other smoking substitutes? Those can help you with changing your habits. 
Remember that quitting now is better than quitting ‘down the road’. You know that this habit is bad, and when you keep building up the habit everyday, you will go through an explosion (not literally…). What I’m trying to say is, that you can suddenly breakdown (at the hospital). I’m not trying to scare you! But if you want to quit, attend therapy sessions or talk to people you love. 

Hope you get better.

Journal Entry: Classroom Project


I just finished up my experience at the Classroom Program at CAMH. I was involved with the children of the mental hospital today.

They ranged between the ages of 6-10.  I was surprised to see that these young kids have mental disorders in such as young age. One child has schizophrenia and was often dazed out, looking at the ceiling and talking to herself. She had a special counselor watch her.

Anyway, I was paired up with one child in particular who suffers from ADHD. I was trying to read some books to him, and he kept running off, distracted by other things. I tried to calm him down, but it was quite difficult. His counselor was there, but she was in the background, watching me learn how to deal with these children. I tried my best to bring him back to sit down and listen to me read, but it was too difficult. His counselor saw me struggle, and took over. That shift of mine cut short, but at least I got to experience how it is like to deal with an ADHD child.

I hope tomorrow will be better. Everyday, there has been challenge after challenge.

Reflection on my week

So this week has been quite interesting for me. Volunteering at the mental hospital is a crazy experience, both good and bad. The volunteer co ordinator is very helpful in explaining to me the purpose of certain rooms, and why patients go through certain treatments. So far, so good, with my experience at the mental hospital.

Journal Entry: At Alcoholics Anonymous


Today we had an Alcoholics Anonymous session at the hospital. I chose to watch how things pan out and it is very interesting. People from all different age groups and racial backgrounds came out.

What surprised me the most was the 10 year old who came. Yes, a 10 year old. He told his story about his dad who is an alcoholic, and has been arrested several times for drinking and driving. Plus, his health is failing on him too. This 10 year old is very mature and brave for his age, and I was so impressed at his speech during this meeting.

My thoughts about AA is that it was very interesting and I liked listening to these stories. Although it may seem to be a little strange and depressing, at the end, the people who showed up become happy. It’s great to see that in the beginning, they have all these depressing stories to share, but then the story has a happy ending. AA is a great help!

Journal Entry: Inside a Padded Cell


Hello everyone! So for those of you who don’t know, I’ve actually been volunteering at a mental hospital. I just started, so not much as been happening. I visited the padded cell today, which was a little weird–it was all white walls, and a bed in the centre. Some patients actually have to spend the night in this confinement… I don’t think I will be able to do that!

Actually there was a patient who was there for a couple of hours. He has OCD, and I thought that he would be okay surviving in there, since that room is so clean. Turns out he was going crazy! He noticed a bit of dust and freaked out! After he came out, it was a heart-beating sight to see.
Well, I survived today, and I look forward to tomorrow.


Preparing For University

Dear Alyssa,
I am graduating high school this year, and I recently got acceptance letters to universities. I am debating between two universities, one is close to home and the other one is three hours away. I want to choose the one closer to home, because I want to stay closer to my family, but I also want to go to the one that is further because of the better program choice. What should I do?
Academic Dilemma

Hi Academic Dilemma,
You should talk to your parents and other people you know and ask for their opinions. However, the program is a big reason to choose which university to go to. If you are financially stable, then go for the university that is further as it has the program you want. Plus, you get to experience how it is like to live away from home and know that there are thousands of other people your age who will be doing the same. If you are not financially/emotionally stable, maybe staying at home is better for you. For now, talk to your parents about it, and hopefully they can help you make a decision.
Good Luck,