Family and Caregiver Support

When your loved one is living with schizophrenia, it can feel like you're totally alone. You're not. We're here for you, offering resources and support to empower family members with knowledge and hope.

Our programs allow you to connect with other families and caregivers who understand the journey you're on. If you're interested in joining a program, contact us now by phone, email, in branch, or by registering for an online program below.


Our Programs

Community Education Program

Our Community Education Program works to reduce stigma and misconceptions by busting myths through education and the personal stories of those living with schizophrenia.


Community Presentations

SSA clients living with schizophrenia provide educational presentations to a variety of groups across Alberta. These presenters are employed by SSA through our supportive employment program. 

Each presentation provides information about schizophrenia while program presenters share their personal experiences and challenges, educating the community in order to reduce stigma. Presentations are offered at no cost to students (high school, college, and university level), public employees, first-responders, businesses and more. 

If you are interested in more information or want to book a presentation at no cost, please contact your local branch.

Nearly all presentations to school groups result in a student recognizing symptoms in him or herself and receiving early intervention.

Starry Night theatre group

Starry Night is a powerful stage performance by actors with lived experience of schizophrenia. The play is offered to conferences and conventions across Alberta to create awareness and combat the many misconceptions associated with the illness. These performers are employed by SSA through our supportive employment program.

Starry Night was written in 1998 by a group of individuals living with schizophrenia. They had all faced intense stigma from the community, but they knew that if people could get a glimpse at how it feels to live with schizophrenia, they could change their hearts and minds. 

Hundreds of performances later, Starry Night continues to educate, encourage empathy, and impact audiences across Alberta.

For more information or if you are interested in booking a performance, please contact our Provincial Program Director, Wendy Bonertz.

Recording from Starry Night, 2015

Supportive Housing

SSA provides supportive housing to 53 individuals living with schizophrenia who would otherwise be at risk for homelessness. 

We are doing our part to help those living with schizophrenia in Alberta by providing three residences located in Edmonton and Red Deer.

Our three housing programs provide varying levels of support which allows tenants to have a safe and comfortable home where they are able to focus on what's most important: working towards recovery.

It costs $486 a day to keep a person in a psychiatric hospital, compared to just $72 per day to house a person in the community with supports.

Iris Court

Iris Court located in Edmonton provides affordable, permanent, supportive housing to 21 individuals living with mental illness and who were at risk of homelessness.

Iris Court is a vital project owned and operated by the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta (SSA) in partnership with Homeward Trust, Government of Canada, Government of Alberta, Seniors Services and Continuing Care Division-Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services, Addiction and Mental Health.

Iris Court has support staff in-house 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. 

Services include:

  • 24-hour support staff

  • 3 meals per day and snacks

  • fully furnished rooms

  • free laundry facilities

  • medication monitoring

  • assistance with activities of daily living

  • recreational and support opportunities

  • community service referrals

For questions regarding Iris Court please contact Trueman Macdonald at 780-705-5565 or tmacdonald@schizophrenia.ab.ca.

To inquire about a referral to Iris Court, please contact Homeward Trust at 780-702-5267 or supportservices@homewardtrust.ca.


Kentwood Place

Kentwood Place is SSA’s supportive housing unit, based in Red Deer. It provides housing for 25 individuals living with schizophrenia who are working towards a more independent future. 

Kentwood Place is owned and operated by the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta in partnership with Alberta Health Services, Addiction and Mental Health.

Kentwood has support staff in-house 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. 

Services include:

  • 24-hour access to AHS and support staff on site

  • 3 meals per day and snacks

  • fully furnished rooms

  • free laundry facilities

  • medication monitoring

  • clinical staff

  • assistance with activities of daily living

  • recreational and support opportunities

  • community service referrals

For more information about Kentwood Place, please contact Trueman Macdonald at 780-705-5565 or tmacdonald@schizophrenia.ab.ca.


Lovella Apartments

Lovella Apartments, located in Red Deer, provides an affordable residence for 7 tenants who require very little day-to-day support and are largely independent. 

Lovella Apartments are owned and operated by the SSA and allows tenants the freedom to continue working towards recovery without the stress of an unsteady living situation.

Services include:

  • 24-hour live in apartment mentor

  • SSA staff support Mon- Fri 8:30 am - 4:00 pm

  • one bedroom apartment suite

  • all utilities included

  • free laundry facilities in basement

  • access to branch programs

  • recreational and support opportunities

  • community service referrals

For more information about Lovella please contact 430-986-9440 or info@schizophrenia.ab.ca.

Supportive Employment

SSA employs over 200 individuals living with schizophrenia in a variety of peer support and community education positions. 

The benefits of this are profound. For many, maintaining steady employment can be difficult due to discrimination and need for flexibility while managing their illness.

Providing a safe and supportive work environment empowers these individuals to make a living, participate in community, and make a difference while still putting their mental health first. 

As many as 96% of individuals with schizophrenia experience discrimination

Our programs are so powerful because they are led by those with lived experience. Who better to share their knowledge, learnings, and personal story than those who have been through it? 

SSA employs clients who are successfully managing their illness as adult peer support workers, youth support mentors, community education facilitators, and within branches in a variety of positions.

Resources

online resources

  • SSA's Family and Caregivers Guide To Recovery

  • Schizophrenia Research Institute Library

  • Mental Wellness Today (SZ Magazine)

  • Schizophrenia.com A non-profit community providing in-depth information, support and education related to schizophrenia, a disorder of the brain and mind.

  • Get Help Early Working together to overcome psychosis.

  • The Prevention and Early Intervention Program for Psychoses (PEPP)

  • Dr. Yes Online youth education.

  • Mind Your Mind This is a place for youth and emerging adults to access info, resources and tools during tough times. Help yourself. Help each other. Share what you live and know.The Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre (EPPIC) is an integrated and comprehensive psychiatric service aimed at addressing the needs of people aged 15-24 with emerging psychotic disorders in the western and north-western regions of Melbourne. EPPIC is a specialist clinical program of Orygen Youth Health (OYH) which is itself a component service of NorthWestern Mental Health and Melbourne Health.

  • The Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre (EPPIC) 

  • Iris the Dragon The Iris the Dragon book series and educational material facilitates the conversation between parents, teachers and children about mental health and wellness.

  • Mental Health WORKS Mental Health Works is a nationally available program of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) that builds capacity within Canadian workplaces to effectively address the many issues related to mental health in the workplace. Canada will be releasing a voluntary standard for psychological health and safety in the workplace in 2012.

  • Addiction and Mental Health Information and Services. This link provides a number of links to information and resources on mental health, substances and addiction to help improve the health and mental well-being of Albertans.

  • Mental Health Act of Alberta.  The Mental Health Act of Alberta was enacted to provide safeguards, supports and supervision, for mentally ill individuals.  In 2004, the Minister of Health initiated the process to examine the Act to ensure that the legislation remains responsive to the needs of involuntary patients and to provide a community treatment option.

  • The Mental Health Patient Advocate (MHPA) was established in 1990 under the Mental Health Act. The MHPA is legislated to help people who are or have been detained in hospital under admission or renewal certificates and people under community treatment orders (CTO), and those acting on their behalf, to understand and exercise their rights. MHPA may investigate complaints or refer the complainant to another body that can assist. 

  • Rays of Hope This reference manual extends practical advice based on experience; experience that families have willingly shared for the benefit of readers. They have learned the importance of being armed with knowledge to deal with schizophrenia. It is upon their advice we have chosen various ideas and topics. We hope that by reading it, you will have a good start in learning about schizophrenia.

  • The IMAGINE Program resource created by the Alliance of Otsuka and Lundbeck is now available click here"

  • An interesting blog article from the UK. How Dogs Can Help with Mental Health – Mind Boosting Benefits of Dog Ownership

  • TeenMentalHealth.org - Cannabis Resource

Videos 

  • The Downside of High Teenagers who start smoking marijuana before the age of sixteen are four times more likely to become schizophrenic. That's the startling conclusion of some of the world's top schizophrenia experts, whose research is featured in the new documentary The Downside of High.

  • Living with Schizophrenia is an uplifting 22 minute video that shows interviews with clients living with schizophrenia and mental health professionals who treat them. It shows that people with schizophrenia can live normal and happy lives.

  • Mental Health Channel is the world's best mental health and wellness online programming, sharing real stories of those affected by mental illness.

Facts About SSA

  • 1 in 100 people are affected by Schizophrenia

  • Over 40,000 Albertans are affected by schizophrenia

  • SSA supports over 34,000 Albertans affected by schizophrenia

  • SSA's programs help reduce the number of hospitals stays for those living with schizophrenia.

  • SSA housing and support programs cost one quarter of the price of a day in hospital.

  • SSA provides supportive employment to over 200 people living with schizophrenia. 78% of those provide peer support

  • 2017-2018 year SSA provided Community Education presentations to over 359 community education institutions, front line public professionals and other community organizations

  • SSA Community Education Programs bust myths and reduce stigmas. After our high school and university presentations, we often have young people come forward and ask for help.

Facts about schizophrenia

  • Schizophrenia is a physical disorder affecting the brain, and therefore can affect perception & behaviour.

  • Schizophrenia is a treatable disorder. The majority of people will experience either considerable reduction in symptoms after treatment, or no further symptoms.

  • People with schizophrenia are more likely to harm themselves than another person.

  • Schizophrenia is NOT a multiple personality disorder.

  • Schizophrenia is NOT caused by bad parenting.

  • Currently, the cause of schizophrenia is unknown. It is believed that genetics are involved; research is ongoing.  

  • People with schizophrenia are people with talent, potential & capability. 

  • Schizophrenia is ten times more common than AIDS, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and melanoma combined 

  • 1 in 10 people with schizophrenia end their own lives – often because they are isolated and don’t receive the help and support they need.

  • Schizophrenia strikes men and women equally, and affects people of all racial, ethnic, class and economic backgrounds.

  • Schizophrenia generally strikes young people in the prime of their lives, in their late teens and early adult years.

  • Families are greatly disrupted by schizophrenia. Families are usually the primary care providers of people with schizophrenia. They must cope with the unpredictability of the individual affected, the side effects of medication, and with the frustration and worry about their loved one’s future.

  • Schizophrenia has a profound impact on a person’s development and ability to function in all aspects of life including self-care, family and social relationships, education, employment and housing Schizophrenia is ranked the third most disabling condition in the world.

  • Substance use/abuse is common among people with schizophrenia. Up to 80% of people with schizophrenia will abuse substances in their lifetime.

  • Relapse is associated with negative personal views and self-blame

  • Approximately 70% of individuals with schizophrenia have positive outcomes with the appropriate treatment

  • As many of 96% of individuals with schizophrenia experience discrimination