Ottawa Salus’ Supportive Housing Model Is Changing Lives
Jon was in a recovery program at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre when a social worker referred him to Ottawa Salus’ Transitional Rehabilitation Fisher program, which would set him on a track to change his life.
Since 1977, Ottawa Salus has been committed to improving the well-being of those living with mental illness in the city. Through a combination of mental health services, rehabilitation support and housing options, Salus helps people live independently while becoming more connected to others around them.
Their Fisher program allows clients to participate in a neighbourhood setting while recovering from mental illnesses and substance use. While there, Jon was connected to a personal worker and housing worker who helped him set personal goals and access resources to help achieve them.
One of the pillars of Salus’ mission is creating a culture of wellness and self-care through various activities, including exercise and sports. During his time at Fisher, Jon also got into running, participating in a 5k while in the program and various other timed runs. He acknowledges the impact physical health has on his well-being as he focuses on finding work and participating in other program-led social and skill-building activities like basketball and a cooking group. “Salus cares about our recovery and goals. They want us to be independent, but they want to bring us together too,” he says.
The non-profit maintains a supportive housing model including mental health support and frontline staff for their clients. They own and operate 14 buildings throughout the city, including one in Lebreton Flats where, with this support and through his dedication and hard work, Jon now lives independently. This stability has given Jon the chance to work towards his goals, recently completing his high school diploma and now pursuing a healthcare career.
Salus’ supportive housing options include apartments, shared living and partner housing which not only addresses the crucial need of having somewhere to live but also fosters a larger sense of belonging. “We’re all together, it brings out the community and we care about each other,” Jon says, about living at Lebreton. “It’s helpful.”
Having somewhere safe and stable to call home is the necessary starting point for any person to thrive. Beyond that, being among people who support you through your goals as an individual is critical to mental wellness and long-term success. That’s why Salus’ approach revolves around helping clients increase skills and independence in a way that helps them integrate with the larger community.
“Mental health affects us all,” Jon says. “People should support organizations like this and work to stop the stigma. We all know people who are struggling and need support. Everyone needs support at times to have a fulfilling life.” This is one of the many reasons Salus is Run Ottawa’s charity partner in the upcoming Richmond Road Races on Sunday, January 28, 2024, and is a participating charity in the Desjardins Charity Challenge program at Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend.
“Partnering with Run Ottawa has elevated our presence in the community and brought attention to the crucial services that Salus offers— supportive housing including mental health services. Growing our community of supporters helps us to better serve our clients and increase awareness on critical issues surrounding housing including mental health services in Ottawa,” says Jesse Maione, the Philanthropy & Communications Coordinator at Salus.
The Richmond Road Races include 5k and 10k options, with proceeds from the event going towards housing and resources for Salus’ clients. “Even in the face of disability we should be able to enjoy life too,” Jon adds. Organizations like Salus, who promote inclusion, health and well-being for everyone are what being a community is all about.