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Ask The Expert - Web and Telephone Support

About Ask the Expert:

Ask the Expert (ATE) assists people living with schizophrenia and psychosis and their families across Ontario through telephone, online and in-person support. ATE is staffed by a team of trained mental health counselors who provide customized, supportive counseling, advice on the mental health system in Ontario and connects people to local resources and services available throughout the province. All questions and responses are private.
 

ATE offers information for people dealing with:
  • First episode or new diagnosis of schizophrenia/psychosis
  • Persistent, ongoing situations of schizophrenia and related mental illness
  • Justice and mental health
  • Housing
  • Employment/ODSP
  • Early intervention
  • Medications
  • Signs and symptoms of mental illness
  • Advocacy

How to Get in Touch:

  1. Complete the form below, including your city and postal code so that information about local resources can be shared with you.
  2. Allow 24 hours for a response. Questions made over the weekend or during holidays will be responded to on the next business day.
  3. To speak with a mental health counselor, please call 1-855-449-9949 (please specify whether or not you would like the counselor to leave a voicemail message) 

Hours:

Office hours are Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST. If you are facing a medical emergency or are in crisis, please contact your local crisis mobile team or call 911. 

Disclaimer:

Please note that the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario’s (SSO) Ask the Expert program is not a crisis or distress support line. If you are in crisis or distress and require immediate response, contact 211 (in Ontario) to obtain the phone number for crisis support in your local area, or contact Crisis Services Canada toll-free at 1-833-456-4566. If you are in an emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

Frequently Asked Questions about Schizophrenia and Psychosis 

The Schizophrenia Society of Ontario keeps all personal information disclosed by you in the strictest confidence. Your personal information will not be released to other agencies or individuals without your explicit consent. This expectation of privacy does not apply, however, if the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario reasonably believes that disclosure of your information is necessary to avoid or reduce a significant risk of bodily harm occurring to you or to others. The Schizophrenia Society of Ontario is obligated by law to report to the appropriate authorities (including the police) any indication that an individual may be at risk of harming him/herself or someone else, and to report if a child under the age of 18 is either suffering, or at risk of suffering, physical and/or emotional harm. 
 
Please note that a “child” is defined as an individual under the age of 18 in the Child and Family Services Act.
 

Ask the Expert

SSO will respond to your message during business hours (M-F, 9 am - 5 pm), within 3 business days.

















 
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Strengthening Families Together 

About Strengthening Families Together:

Strengthening Families Together (SFT) is a four-week education and support group for family members and friends of people living with serious mental illness. Each 4-week session is $50.00/person.

Topics presented in group sessions include information about:
  • Schizophrenia and psychosis
  • Treatment options
  • Coping as a family
  • Mental health system and criminal justice system
  • Advocacy

How to get in touch: 

SFT is offered in various communities across Ontario.  Check our events calendar for upcoming SFT events near you. For university and college students SFT on Campus supports students who are family members and friends of individuals living with schizophrenia. Find out more here.

SSO provides an online version of SFT for people who cannot attend in person. Each session is interactive and lead by a mental health family worker. Check our events calendar for upcoming SFT events near you.

Justice and Mental Health (JAMH)

About JAMH:

For families needing support when a loved one living with mental illness comes into contact with the law, our helpline is available to help connect you with options.

Additionally, families looking for support around justice and mental health concerns can access an information guide here

How to get in touch:

Please contact us at 1-855 449-9949 or email at asktheexpert@schizophrenia.on.ca 

IDEAS - Family Support

About IDEAS Family Support

IDEAS Family Support Group is an evening of supportive conversation with presentations from guest speakers, held in a welcoming space. Topics focus on psychoeducation, system navigation, tools for supporting loved ones, and self-care.

How to get in touch

Visit our events calendar to find an IDEAS group in your community.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Psychosis (CBT-p)

In 2016, SSO entered into a three-year partnership with Dr. Turkington and his team at Insight CBT Partnership in the United Kingdom, to begin delivering CBT-based workshops for caregivers of loved ones with psychotic illness and schizophrenia. The purpose was to share CBT-based tools and techniques to help caregivers better support someone living with serious mental illness. Beyond our CBT-p for caregivers workshops, SSO’s unique knowledge and experience in the area of psychotic illness and schizophrenia has precipitated a number of other programs and services incorporating CBT-p, including a support group for individuals with lived experience, Recovery in Action (RIA), and community-based training for frontline workers. Dr. Turkington and Insight continue to provide consultation, review, and support to our initiatives in the area of CBT-p. 

What is CBT?

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an approach used in psychotherapy that allows someone in a supportive role to work closely with an individual and help them identify and solve problems. Together, they overcome difficulties by altering unhelpful patterns of thinking or behaviour, and their responses to situations.

What is CBT-p?

CBT-p is CBT tailored specifically to those affected by psychotic illnesses. CBT is already a proven treatment for mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, and there is a growing body of research indicating that CBT can reduce positive symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations and delusions, as well as negative symptoms, including social withdrawal, difficulty in expressing emotions and loss of motivation.

In addition to its efficacy for people living with psychotic illness, it’s also shown to be beneficial for those in a caregiver role. Health Quality Ontario quality standards for the treatment of schizophrenia include CBT-p as an effective treatment in managing the symptoms of schizophrenia, when used in conjunction with medication.

How does CBT-p work?

In contrast to some forms of psychotherapy, CBT focuses on present thoughts and beliefs. It makes individuals more aware of how their thought patterns and personal beliefs create their reality, and subsequently determines how they behave. By identifying negative thoughts and challenging their validity, individuals have an opportunity to replace them with healthier, more constructive ones, which in turn creates a more positive pattern.

CBT-p is grounded in the guiding principles of CBT with the specific aim to reduce the distress associated with the symptoms of psychosis and improve an individual’s functioning.

Who can benefit from CBT-p? 

Caregivers and Families

Individuals with Lived Experience

Frontline workers
 

CBT-p for caregivers and families

When an individual is faced with a serious mental illness, their families are also deeply affected. It’s estimated that almost half of those who live with schizophrenia are cared for by their immediate family. Family involvement is associated with improved outcomes for individuals with mental illness, including increased rates of recovery and decreased involvement with the criminal justice system.

In spite of evidence, families frequently find themselves being treated as outsiders in the mental health system, and due to shortages in mental health services, for both individuals and caregivers, it’s not uncommon for families to become isolated, disengaged with treatment, and to experience relapses and hospitalization of their relative.

 Our 2-day CBT-p informed caregiver workshop provides practical tools aimed to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression in caregivers, build greater resiliency, and increase their capacity to promote the recovery journey of the person they care for.

By providing caregivers with basic and easy to apply CBT techniques and teaching them to apply these strategies to their personal situations, participants leave feeling empowered, more optimistic about their relationship with their loved one, and better equipped to communicate productively.

Click here to register for upcoming workshop(s).
 

CBT-p for people with lived experience

Depending on where an individual is in their journey, the program uses CBT-p to focus on everything from grief and loss around aspirations and relationships; the importance of medication adherence and community supports; revisiting goal-setting; and, understanding relapse prevention and negative symptoms, like anxiety, depression and lack of motivation.

Our 7-week CBT-p based program for people living with schizophrenia called Recovery in Action works to give adults and youth living with schizophrenia the supports they need to navigate their illness.

CBT-p for frontline workers

Within community organizations across Ontario, frontline professionals are often responsible for first-encounter support and care to individuals exhibiting signs of severe mental illness. Often times, these workers are ill-equipped to moderate such interactions, particularly where there are signs of psychosis and situations escalate.

In 2016, SSO applied for, and received three-year grant funding to implement and rigorously evaluate an unprecedented CBT-p skills training module for frontline workers in Toronto. Based on the successful model of this program SSO received additional funding from Halton region to implement the same project with two community groups and to fill a comparable need at the frontlines of its comprising municipalities.


Visit this page again for future updates about our CBT-p for frontline workers program, including evaluation results, resources, and additional training opportunities.

For more information about our CBT-p programming, please contact cbtp@schizophrenia.on.ca