In 1988, Robert Graham submitted a report to the government called “Building Community Support of People: A Plan for Mental Health in Ontario.” Communities across Ontario began a consultation to identify local gaps in services and supports based on the community mental health needs or “functions” defined by the report.
As a result of the respectful and thorough planning process in East York, specific needs were identified for people with serious mental health problems. At that time this list included: housing, vocational training, case management/community support and social needs. Alternatives: East York Mental Health Counselling Services Agency was funded as a result of case management or community support being named as a priority. More recently the Mental Health Reform document “making it Happen” still see case management as a priority service.
In April 1994, we opened our doors for service.. We are an organization dedicated to enabling adults to realize their potential trough Case management and counselling. We work with people experiencing lengthy and or significant mental health problems that seriously impact upon or disrupt their quality of life. We provide individual community support and counselling, groups, advocacy and linkages to other services. In 2001- 2008 Alternatives offered a community support service in Thorncliffe Park as a partnership with Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office. The worker at our Thorncliffe location offered services in Urdu, Hindi and Gujerati.
As of April 1995, we have sponsored the Consumer Survivor and Family Community Development Project. The project coordinator works with consumer/survivors and family members to support their increased involvement in the community mental health reform process, and to promote and develop innovative mental health supports.
At Alternatives, we have a Board of Directors, committees and work groups which include consumers of the system, service providers, and family and community members. We operate with a set of values that include respect, patience and celebrations of differences regarding disability, gender, race, sexual orientation, age and culture. We acknowledge and confront stigma as it applies to historically marginalized groups and consider the connections between poverty, abuse, the criminal justice and mental health systems as we work with our clients.