Help break the mental health and poverty cycle

I’ve said it in a number of my columns, but it’s a statement that bears repeating. Mental health and poverty are very tightly linked. In either direction, the two affect one another – the mentally ill are more likely to live in poverty and the poor are more likely to have mental illness.

As the thanksgiving season approaches, I thought it a good time to highlight some recent research into this link and also to remind us of some local organizations working tirelessly on behalf of those in need.

A recent report on community based mental health services in BC claims our current system does not have enough resources and fails to recognize the link between poverty and mental illness. Conducted by researchers from Simon Fraser University and published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, this study says the government needs to increase income assistance and disability payments to the mentally ill.

Although the government provides more than one billion dollars for mental health and addiction services, it is still difficult for mentally ill individuals to navigate the social welfare system if they don’t have an advocate working on their behalf. Unfortunately, Canadians living on social assistance are living far below the poverty line with monthly payments not adequate for providing decent housing and standard of living.

The inadequacy of government support often sends low income mentally ill individuals into a cycle in which they are admitted to hospital until their illness is stabilized, but can’t get adequate housing when they leave the hospital setting and their mental health deteriorates until they end up back in a hospital setting or in prison.

Without appropriate support in terms of money and advocacy, these individuals cannot break free of this cycle.

Of course, advocacy and support are present within the community to a certain degree and these non-government organizations need our support. In Kelowna there are a number of organizations in place to assist individuals in need. The Kelowna Gospel Mission is one such facility providing shelter, meals and more to the homeless and working poor of our community.

In its Leon Ave. location, the gospel mission provides nurtritious meals to anyone who needs them for lunch and supper each day. On average the Gospel Mission serves more than 300 people every day of the year. In addition to a hot meal, men can receive emergency shelter at the Gospel Mission and there are local barbers and dentists who volunteer their time and services to help meet some other physical needs the homeless and working poor. These are only a few of the services the Gospel Mission provides to those in need and their hard work should be supported by all of us.

In preparation for thanksgiving and the upcoming holiday season, Okanagan Clinical Trials will be joining with the Gospel Mission next week for a toonie and blanket drive.

We are collecting warm blankets for the Gospel Mission that will be used during the winter season to help keep its clients warm – if you have any gently used blankets or would like to provide new ones, please consider donating them. Toonies are also being collected to provide meals for the homeless and working poor. It costs the Gospel Mission roughly two dollars for each plate filled and the needs tend to increase during the cold season. Even a small donation can help to ensure that one needy person receives a decent meal this winter.

Please join us in the Kelowna Wal-Mart parking lot on October 6 from 10:00am to 2:00pm and bring your generous gifts of blankets and toonies in support of the Gospel Mission. All donations are appreciated.


Current Studies

 Alzheimer's Disease 


 Parkinson's Disease





 Interested in participating? Call us for more information!