North Shore Schizophrenia Society


 

For Immediate Release                                                                                October 20, 2009

 North Shore Schizophrenia Society expands peer support services for families
of people with schizophrenia and other serious forms of mental illness

 The North Shore Schizophrenia Society is pleased to announce the hiring of Christine Buttkus for the newly created position of Outreach Coordinator for the Sea to Sky Corridor.  Ms. Buttkus, who lives in Whistler, is well known for her work with non-profit organizations throughout the corridor.

 "We're delighted to have Christine on our team," says NSSS president Herschel Hardin.  "We've wanted to establish this position in the Sea to Sky for four or five years, but only now have been able to manage it.  It's gratifying to know that families in the Sea to Sky with mentally ill relatives will now have easier access to our programs."

NSSS, based at its Family Support Centre in West Vancouver, covers all serious mental illnesses - bipolar disorder, major depression, anxiety disorders (including obsessive-compulsive disorders) and borderline personality disorder, as well as schizophrenia. Since the spring of 2008, it has offered a family support group in Squamish.  It hopes, now, to provide its ground-breaking education course, Family-to-Family, in Squamish, starting in the New Year.  Both programs are open to all those in the Corridor who are interested.

The Society has always had a few members in the Squamish-Whistler-Pemberton area, some of whom have travelled to West Vancouver for programs.  One-on-one peer support and crisis counselling have also been available by telephone.  The NSSS Sea to Sky initiative brings availability of some key programs closer to home.

Services are led by volunteers with special training who have first-hand experience with the challenges of having a family member living with a serious mental illness.  Thus NSSS's slogan, "Families Helping Families."  NSSS family support services play an important role in giving family members a place to turn to and in helping them cope. 

Programs are free of charge, notes Buttkus.  "Given the geography of the Corridor, we need to hear from people about their support needs so we can determine when, where and how best to help. We donít want anyone to have to struggle in isolation."

 Just to give readers a sense of the numbers on the North Shore and the Sea-to-Sky:

  • 1,750 have schizophrenia.

  •  3,850 suffer from bipolar disorder

Including depression and anxiety disorders, 42,000 people on the North Shore and Sea-to-Sky will personally experience a mental illness at least once during their lifetime. Add in family members who become involved and we're looking at a significant segment of the population who are affected.

For more information about programs, services and upcoming education events, please contact Christine at christine@northshoreschizophrenia.org, 604-932-7543 or 604-849-2252 or visit the NSSS website at www.northshoreschizophrenia.org.  For information on the Sea to Sky Family Support Group, please contact Sue at 604-898-9372 or by e-mail at sue@northshoreschizophrenia.org.

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Media contacts:

Christine Buttkus, Sea to Sky Outreach Coordinator, 604-932-7543

Cheryl Olney, Executive Director, 604-926-0856

Herschel Hardin, President, 604-922-7153

Background:

The North Shore Schizophrenia Society (NSSS) was founded in 1983.  Its Family Support Centre, located in West Vancouver, opened its doors in 1995.  NSSS's mission is to alleviate the suffering caused by schizophrenia and other serious mental illness.

NSSS is a family-support organization, providing free help for those with mentally ill relatives.  It offers personal support, information, education, awareness programs and advocacy, and sponsors some social events.  Its serves all of the North Shore, Bowen Island, and the Sea to Sky Corridor (Lions Bay, Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton and points between), and also handles calls from further afield, many of them generated by its website, www.northshoreschizophrenia.org.

NSSS work is based on a family peer-support model, where core activities, in particular the family support group, Family-to-Family education course, and one-on-one counselling, are provided by trained family members.