Mental health is increasingly known as a vital overall health and social issue and every step we can take to help individuals get back to a state of mental wellness is important. Meet Jennifer, a Mental Health Rehabilitation Worker at Sumac Place, a 28-bed specialized mental health facility located in the beautiful seaside village of Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast.
Having worked in social services for 12 years, Jennifer felt the need for a change and the prospect of being involved in the day-to-day wellness activities of others sparked interest in her. “I enjoy being able to help individuals learn more about social connection and introduce them to healthy activities and ways to find joy again,” she says. She finds inspiration in her everyday work from listening to a resident break into a song when they have been silent for too long to being a part of the little and big successes of individuals working through struggles. “I work with residents that always keep me laughing and some have taught me about the beauty of art, nature and being in silence,” she says.
Jennifer incorporates the VCH Values (We Care for Everyone, We are Always Learning, and We Strive for Better Results) in her role by intentionally seeing each client as a human, and not just their behaviour. She strives to keep an open mind while learning and feels well supported by her team and especially her manager, Monika. “She is a role model on how to treat those struggling with mental illness with respect, compassion and dignity. She is always available for teaching moments,” says Jennifer.
Wanting to escape the busyness of the city and having a desire to live in a small town, Jennifer made the move to the Sunshine Coast about a year and half ago. “One the main advantages of working in beautiful Gibsons is the abundance of natural settings I can take residents to,” she says. “It is easy to flourish in nature as most people do. Residents love getting to watch a sunset at the beach or talking a stroll through the forest.” People live a more relaxed lifestyle here and Jennifer finds that when she is with residents on outings, community members are extremely kind, patient and welcoming.