Pathways Serious Mental Illness Society (SMIS) is a pioneering, volunteer-led and membership-based family support organization working on the front lines to deliver programs and services centered around education, support, and advocacy to families, significant others and friends of a loved one with a mental illness across British Columbia.
Pathways SMIS was born organically out of a need among families caring for a relative with a mental illness for information, resources and support that formal channels have not provided. It was established in 1983 originally as a branch of the BC Schizophrenia Society.
Our core programs and services are based on a peer support model. This means that programs and services we offer such as one-on-one support, peer support groups, skills-building workshops and our Family-to-Family educational program, are provided/delivered by trained supporters with living experience of caring for a family member, partner, friend or relative with a mental illness.
Our vision is to be a vibrant, innovative centre of support, education, awareness and advocacy for families and others affected by serious mental illness.
Our mission is to alleviate the suffering caused by serious mental illnesses, including anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, concurrent disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and schizophrenia.
We achieve this mission through our programming and services, which are free of charge and include:
– one-on-one peer support
– a mental health education course
– weekly peer support groups,
– new skills-building workshops,
– first-hand stories delivered in schools and universities
– a public lecture series
– advocacy work to help families overcome obstacles, advocate for more meaningful family involvement in treatment planning and greater information sharing, and defend and strengthen provisions in our legislation that allow for timely access to treatment.