The Schizophrenia Society of Alberta is an organization which aims to improve the quality of life for those affected by schizophrenia and psychosis through education, support programs, public policy and research. We spoke with Rubyann Rice, Provincial Executive Director, to learn more about what they do.
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.
The Schizophrenia Society of Alberta supports individuals and families affected by schizophrenia and related disorders through peer support, educational programs, and advocacy. Our programs and services are available in person at our 6 branch locations, over the phone, and online, at no cost. SSA also owns and operates 3 supportive housing facilities in Red Deer and Edmonton which are home to 55 individuals living with severe mental illness, who were homeless or at risk of homelessness.
What problem does it aim to solve?
Our mission is to improve the quality of life for those affected by schizophrenia and psychosis through education, support programs, public policy, and research. 1 in 100 people is living with schizophrenia, that’s over 44,000 Albertans, and when we include their families and caregivers, the number of people affected by this illness drastically increases to approximately 170,000. Although schizophrenia is just as common as Type One Diabetes, it is still one of the most misunderstood mental illnesses, causing unwarranted fear and stigma in our communities. Our goal is to ensure that everyone living with schizophrenia and psychosis has the support they need to lead a meaningful and fulfilling life.
We remain deeply committed to our core values:
– Care: providing programs and services that emphasize shared experience, the benefits of community, and the importance of self-care in reaching recovery.
– Empowerment: providing supportive employment and housing in an environment free of social stigma.
– Education: providing community education to reduce the stigma and discrimination.
When did you start/join it?
The SSA was founded in 1980. I joined the SSA as their Provincial Executive Director in 2009.
What made you want to get involved?
I have always had a strong passion for working with marginalized and vulnerable populations, especially those affected by mental illness and those struggling with homelessness. Over the past 13 years, I have learned so much from our clients, hearing about their personal life stories, and living with schizophrenia or a related disorder.
How has the situation changed since you started?
The SSA has grown and evolved by identifying the needs of our clients and enhancing our programs and services to stay current in order to meet their needs. For example, we focused on program accessibility through our online option for all Albertans affected by schizophrenia, especially in rural communities where services and programs are limited. During my time with SSA, we acquired 3 supportive housing facilities in Red Deer and Edmonton, which are home to 55 individuals who were at risk or were homeless.
What more needs to be done?
We need to expand our reach to help more Albertans that need our services, and equally important, increase awareness and educate the community about schizophrenia and related disorders. It continues to be one of our greatest challenges, and many of these individuals needing our programs don’t know that the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta is here to support them.
How can our readers help?
Readers can help by making a donation, following our social media to stay informed about volunteer opportunities and events, and ensuring that If you or someone you know could benefit from our programs please reach out so we can help. The past 2 years have been particularly hard for those affected by mental illness, consequently creating even more of a need for our programs. We support recovery and instill hope in individuals living with schizophrenia and their family members, but we can’t do it on our own!
Do you have any events coming up?
We are in the midst of our Annual Fundraising Campaign – “See Me, Not My Illness”. We chose the name ‘See Me, Not My Illness’ because 96% of our clients shared that they experience discrimination in our communities. Contributions to our campaign will help us to reach our goal of $125,000, allowing us to continue to offer our vital programs of support, housing and education to reduce stigma in our communities. Please visit our website to make a donation and for more information about our programs and upcoming events.
Where can we follow you?
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
It’s hard to choose – Calgary Food Bank and Calgary Homeless Foundation