Ontario Shores specializes in comprehensive mental health services for those with complex, serious and persistent mental illness. One of our goals is to provide patients with opportunities and experiences that are empowering and meaningful and enhance individual recovery. Despite this, we often receive feedback from patients that they perceive a lack of meaningful programming. To address this and further align with recovery-oriented practices, we launched a Recovery College in September, 2016. The College is driven by peer education and support that focuses on empowering learners to choose, attend and possibly develop their own recovery-oriented education courses. Courses in the college are designed promote recovery not only by providing the opportunity to learn about mental health treatment and interventions but also to provide options for leisure and social interaction. This innovative practice is the first of its kind in Canada. Established defining features of Recovery Colleges are: 1. Co-production of courses between people with personal and professional experience of mental health 2. Access to classrooms and a library 3. It operates on college principles (no referrals, but registration) 4. For everyone (not based on diagnosis) 5. There is a personal tutor offering information and guidance 6. The college is not a substitute for traditional assessment and treatment and is not a substitute for mainstream colleges 8. It reflects recovery principles in all aspects of its culture and operation College components included: 1) educational courses, 2) guidance in the form of peer support, and 3) individualized learning opportunities such as library access to mental health materials and resources. Sixty-six students enrolled in the first semester of the college containing 21 courses. The second semester saw 79 students enrolling in 42 available courses. The college was evaluated and results revealed positive outcomes related to goal attainment, knowledge acquisition, personal recovery, and a 100% rate of recommendation.
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