Feb 01 2019
This year marks the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario’s 40th
birthday! We trace our beginnings to 1979, when SSO’s founders Bill and Dorothy Jefferies, discouraged by the lack of support available for families impacted by schizophrenia, started a community group called Friends of
Schizophrenics. Bill had two brothers and he and his wife Dorothy – who turns 100 this year – had a son who developed schizophrenia. After a 30-year teaching career, he decided to do more to change the way people thought about the illness and to establish more support for families right in their own communities. He started by with placing an ad in an Oakville newspaper asking any families with loved ones impacted by schizophrenia to attend a meeting to "share and educate.”
He had 80 people attend the first meeting in the basement of a local church in Oakville and thereafter, Oakville became the first Chapter of the newly established Friends of Schizophrenics
. In 1995, due increased awareness and sensitivity to the harm done by labelling a person as "schizophrenic," the name of the organization was changed to Schizophrenia Society of Ontario.
When Bill Jefferies died in 2002 at age 86, he left an invaluable legacy of support for the families and caregivers through the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario and its sister societies.
Fast-forwarding to 2019, SSO is now the largest provincial health charity providing support, education, and advocacy to people, families and communities affected by schizophrenia. Over 140,000 people in Ontario live with the illness.
In the last 40 years, SSO has:
- - Grown our services and programming to meet the needs of people and families affected by schizophrenia and psychosis
- - Grown to support more than 6,000 people annually through our programs, services and events
- - Grown to assist almost 2,000 people annually through our expert counselling helpline
- - Launched the Institute for Advancements in Mental Health (IAM), an initiative focused on redesigning society for better mental health
- - Engaged in important psychosocial and biomedical research initiatives supported by the research fund established by Bill Jefferies
Today, after 40 years of work in communities across the province, we continue to make a positive difference in the lives of people and families impacted by schizophrenia and psychotic illness. Stay tuned for more about our 40th
anniversary as the year progresses!
Learn about ways you can join or continue as a supporter of the SSO community