Sunshine Coast Health Centre offers a personalized approach to motivated men struggling with mental health and co-occurring physical health issues.
The added pressures on the health care system from COVID-19 restricted access to vital health care resources further exacerbates the challenges for those living with mental health, addiction, and co-existing physical health issues.
Sunshine Coast Health Centre, located on BC’s Sunshine Coast in Powell River, is a private health facility that delivers both medical and psychotherapy services for working men from all walks of life who are dealing with stress, depression, anxiety, and occupational trauma (PTSD) or addiction.
Mediaplanet recently spoke with Dr. Geoff Thompson, Program Director, and Jennifer Murray, Director of Nursing at Sunshine Coast Health Centre to learn more about the impacts of the pandemic on individuals with existing mental and physical health issues, and how their unique approach helps with recovery.
How has the lack of access to health care services over the last two years affected individuals with mental health and co-occurring physical health issues?
Jennifer Murray: We’ve seen a significant increase in the acuity and complexity of symptoms in clients who are presenting to our programs. The closing of walk-in clinics and other community services has really limited people’s access to that first primary care experience and so we have inadvertently now become that first assessment of needs for some people.
What impacts has that had on their wellness and recovery?
JM: The pandemic made it very difficult for these people to maintain a regular connection with their clinicians, and for health care providers to engage with them in a meaningful, supportive, and sustainable way. Also, one of the key components of a mental health and wellness plan is a connection with other people. With the pandemic forcing the closure of places like gyms and restaurants, people lost their ability to connect, and that sort of thing can have a big impact on their mental health.
What differentiates your treatment programs from those at other treatment facilities?
Geoff Thompson: Unlike a lot of treatment centres, where the counsellor or doctor is looked at as the authority, we use a partnership approach. Clients are actively engaged in their treatment planning so we can ensure that every single issue they’re struggling with — whether it be physical, psychological, social, or spiritual — gets addressed with us. This allows us to focus 100 percent on the person as an individual.
What makes your non-12 step methodology and programs so effective?
We borrow an idea from the great Austrian psychiatrist and neurologist Viktor Frankl, who noted that addiction was a response to living a life that lacks personal meaning. If lack of a meaningful life is the problem, then the obvious solution is to start looking for personal meaning, and that’s what we help our clients focus on. Many people with addictions don’t know who they really are or why they’re getting up in the morning, so our first step is to help them tease out these questions and identify their strengths, limitations, and values. Then we work with them to identify the barriers they need to overcome to get on with the business of living a meaningful life, whether that be trauma, major depressive disorder or just shyness. We believe that to be more beneficial than any other treatment approach.