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Mental Health Services

At the Y, we are committed to fostering the growth and development of people not just in body – but in mind and spirit as well.

The Mental Health: Learning and Leisure Centre is a community initiative of the YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg that provides skills teaching and leisure programming for adults who live with mental illness, are now in recovery and require supports to participate fully in the community and work toward personal mental health goals. 

Structured group, one-to-one, and peer-led experiences are used to develop functional skills in three dimensions: physicalsocial and emotional health. 

  • Physical health skill development includes education and goal-setting support for exercise, sleep hygiene, nutrition and other leisure time activities. 
  • Social health skill development includes education and goal-setting support for needs that are interpersonal (how to communicate effectively, set boundaries, maintain relationships and identify and access resources) and intrapersonal (how to identify, understand and manage thoughts, feelings and behaviours, how to build self-esteem). 
  • Emotional health skill development includes education and goal-setting support for developing emotional awareness, processing emotions, processing trauma, identifying and managing stressors, identifying and developing coping strategies for mental health symptoms and crisis planning. 


Skill Enhancement Courses and Family Educational Workshops

Course Offerings

Courses are offered 1-3 times per year on a rotational basis in houseCourses are held twice a week for 5-10 sessions. View our various course offerings.

Workshop offerings 

Workshops are offered in house twice per year on a rotational basis. Courses are held during a half day or full day. Workshops can also be offered on-site at your organization. View our various workshop offerings.

 Leisure Program Activities

The Leisure Program offers a regular program of activities designed to provide a natural social environment for recreation. Some examples include board game nights, arts and crafts, karaoke, potlucks and outings. Many of the activities are in general public facilities where participants will have the chance to enjoy themselves in a welcoming, supportive environment, meet others and develop genuine friendships. Monthly peer-led events and leisure opportunities are available for all members and have previously included Manitoba Moose games, Winnipeg Goldeyes games, Royal Winnipeg Ballet performances, museum tours and more! View a sample leisure calendar here (please note this is based on pre-covid experiences). 

Admission Criteria

Individuals referred to the program should be:

  • over 18 years old;
  • able to participate in an intake appointment
  • able to relate to others at a level appropriate for group interaction;
  • interested in developing skills and personal supports;
  • able and willing to attend the program two times per week;
  • stabilized in their mental health; and
  • able to manage the reading and writing requirements of program learning materials.

Both self-referrals and referrals from mental health professionals are accepted.

How to Apply

  • Schedule an appointment by calling Mental Health Services at 204-989-5890 or 204-989-4194 or email us.
  • Fill in a referral form: PDF form and send it in by fax or email

Once received, we will schedule an intake interview, help you select programs would like to participate in, assess your goals and set a start date.

Costs

  • Skill Enhancement Courses – there is no cost to take the skill enhancement courses, as the program is funded through the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and the United Way.
  • Leisure Program Activities – There is no cost to join the group, but some activities may cost up to $3.

Frequently Asked Questions


Resources

Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba
Canadian Mental Health Association
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Centre for Mental Health Services
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Eating Disorders Association of Manitoba
Health Canada
Manitoba Schizophrenia Society
Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba
Obsessive Compulsive Information and Support
Schizophrenia Society of Canada
Winnipeg Regional Health Authority

Success Stories

  • Mental Health Program
  • Wayne's Story

    a man sits in a chair with a white sweater on

    For Wayne, life has been a series of devastating events, each one bringing with it new pain. As a child he was sexually assaulted numerous times. He has struggled with addiction to both drugs and alcohol and has been surrounded by people fighting the same demons. He has lost countless friends and family members. Wayne reached a point where he no longer valued his life.

    “I was going to end it (my life),” said Wayne. “I had nowhere to go.”

    Fortunately, he learned about our Learning & Leisure Mental Health Program through another participant who recommended it to him.

    “I heard all the wonderful work that has come out of the classrooms – how to deal with stress and anxiety,” said Wayne.

    Since first coming to the program, Wayne has enrolled in seven different courses, like Managing Anxiety and Dealing with Depression.

    These courses have given him the tools he needs to manage everyday situations and an entirely new outlook on life.

    “The future looks a whole lot brighter for me now. I am making better decisions. I am now truly enjoying my whole new life.”

    Wayne credits this new outlook to his experience in the program, and to the team who runs it.

    “Staff at the Learning & Leisure Centre have saved me from death.”

  • Stacey's Story

    On November 29, 2018 I was admitted involuntarily to a psych unit in the hospital. I was extremely suicidal and had literally no hope left. I was incredibly angry to be there against my will, and told myself, “Do whatever you have to do so that they’ll discharge you as soon as possible, and then you can still go through with your plan”. So that included attending group sessions twice a day. And one of those sessions was to listen to someone from the Y Learning & Leisure Centre speak to us about their program. To be honest, I was still so tuned out at this point, the only part I truly heard was the free 6 month membership info. THAT caught my ear and I suddenly felt something that I hadn’t felt in quite a while...hope. You see, I’d been wanting a gym membership for a long time but simply couldn’t afford it (which added to my Depression). So I took the pamphlet and really read it a few days later. 

     

    There were 2 upcoming classes. One about Managing Anxiety and the other about Understanding Depression...my exact 2 diagnoses in the hospital. So I signed up for both. And let me tell you, I have not looked back!! I have taken literally every single course and workshop that’s been offered over this past year, and they have been LIFE CHANGERS for me!! Not only have I FINALLY learnt all about my mental illnesses, but most importantly...I’ve learned coping skills!!  

     

    It’s now become my life’s mission to help as many people as possible NOT reach that incredibly dark, low place I was in. That’s why I tell EVERYONE I can about the Y Learning & Leisure Centre’s programs. I give my counsellor every new pamphlet and he told me that he’s recommended these classes to several of his clients. I’ve noticed the classes getting bigger and bigger, with a lot of repeat class mates...because these courses work!! And there’s a HUGE demand for more. Especially classes offered in the evening, for people who work during the day.  

     

    Thanks to these programs I’m happier, more confident, made some lifelong friends, and the most valuable thing of all - HOPEFUL for the future, which is priceless!! 

     

    Stacey is now finding her anxiety and depression manageable through using cognitive behavioural therapy exercises and regular check-ins with members of her mental health support team. She is no longer suicidal and is now volunteering and facilitating skill development groups for the Learning and Leisure centre. 

  • Sandra's Story

    The many benefits I have received from the YMCA Learning and Leisure Centre include learning ways to stand up for myself without anger, anxiety or being trampled on.  

     

    When I do get periods of anger and anxiety, I hear them in my mind "what can we do to work or change this?" and mindful breathing. Along with the classes, I joined the self-esteem book club and the facilitator will go deep on the topics to make sure we understand it.  

     

    Here, there is no question that is wrong or silly, because they genuinely want to make sure we understand the tools they are sharing with us to live our best life.  

     

    Thank you to the facilitator and the Centre for sleep, safety and getting me on the road to me.  

     

    Sandra has been working tirelessly to build up her self-esteem despite a history of complex trauma. Since joining the programshe is now finding value deep within herself despite her anxiety. She practices mindfulness and meditation often and is enjoying healthy relationships once again. 

  • Meagan's Story

    The Mental Health and wellness programs at the Y changed my life. When I first joined I was unable to work due to anxiety and depression. When I found out about the Y programs, I was in a bad place. I had been disappointed repeatedly by many different health-care providers and I didn't have high hopes about anything. When I saw that the programs at the Y could be accessed by self-referral, I was relieved; I didn't have to rely on my doctors and be disappointed yet again. After my assessment, I honestly felt lighter! I was asked questions with care and WITHOUT judgment. I felt as though I was in the right place. I was allowed to start a class even though I was coming in a week late. I was told I could make up the classes I had missed and I was excited. I wasn't used to being accommodated like that. 

     

    The classes are amazing. You meet new people and talk about your experiences. You feel welcome and heard. You have your questions answered. You learn about stress, anxiety, depression and mental health and wellness in general. Through the stories of classmates, the course material and the genuine care you receive from the instructor, you start to feel hopeful again. I know I would be in a very different place if I didn't have the Y programs. I started a gratitude journal and I feel like I'm cheating because a few entries per week are about being grateful for the mental health programs at the YMCA. 

     

    Meagan is now managing her anxiety and depression through developing self-awareness, engaging in regular exercise and practicing assertive language with others. She is now off stress leave and beginning back at work, as well as volunteering and facilitating skill development groups for the Learning and Leisure Centre. 

  • Ralph's Story

    The Learning and Leisure Program is a wonderful experience. I first started with the learning component in early 2017 and then participated in the leisure component. I greatly enjoyed taking courses for my anxiety, depression and skills to become better able to cope with my mental health.  I also enjoy going to the Leisure group where we participate in many activities including darts, board games, cooperative games and events. The people who coordinate and teach the programs at the Learning & Leisure Centre have provided great support and help the keeps me grounded and even keel. They kept the Learning and Leisure Program running throughout the COVID-19 pandemic by virtual connection with computers, tablets and smart phones. This has been instrumental in helping me cope with my mental health throughout the pandemic. 

  • Paul's Story

    The YMCA Learning & Leisure Centre has had a definite positive impact on my mental health recovery since joining. From the staff to the members it is a very welcoming and safe place to socialize with others in similar situations as mine. The leisure groups are a lot of fun and you can for sure learn a lot about whatever mental health issues you may be dealing with. Many different resources are available from the staff to help continue with your recovery and the staff can also advocate on your behalf. Definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made when I decided to join. Thank you so much to the staff for all you’ve done to help and continue to help for a positive future.