Autism Ontario and Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Ontario Division are working together alongside their community partners the York ASD Partnership, SAAAC Autism Centre and MacART to provide opportunities for Ontario adults with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families to gain knowledge, skills and/or resources in mental health through an initiative called Mental Health Matters. Mental Health Matters is a mental health promotion program which will offer CMHA flagship programs Living Life to the Full and Mood Walks to support these distinct groups.
Mood Walks is designed to encourage and support the mental and physical health of participants through exposure to the healing effects of nature, participation in physical activity and engagement with their community. Participants, such as those at risk of or experiencing mental health difficulties and social isolation, can benefit from participating in Mood Walks.
Walking/hiking is a fun and low-cost activity and research shows that being in nature has significant positive effects on both physical and mental health. Green exercise can alleviate primary symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as secondary symptoms such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal. Building life skills and developing a sense of self-efficacy are great ways to foster positive mental health. Group activities such as the Mood Walks program can promote social interaction and provide opportunities for peer support.
If you are interested in opportunities to train to become a Mood Walks safe hike leader, contact Tobi to learn more about upcoming opportunities.
or 416-246-9592 ext 230
Community partners may be offering Mood Walks in your area!
Living Life To The Full is a 12-hour, eight-week mental health promotion program offering free opportunities for Ontario adults on the spectrum and caregivers of individuals on the spectrum to learn wellness and coping skills using the tenets of cognitive behavioural therapy. Participants are taught how to deal with their feelings when fed up, worried or hopeless, and learn skills that help them tackle life’s problems./p>
Activities within the Mental Health Matters project involve local autism and mental health community partner collaboration to create a facilitator adaptation for the existing Living Life to the Full course for both adults living on the spectrum and their caregivers, as well as a new language adaptation in Tamil. As part of this project, the Living Life to the Full course will be offered in English, French and Tamil
The refresher courses offered six months after participants complete Living Life to the Full programs provide a great opportunity to build a community of practice. Many of the caregivers, family members and adults on the spectrum may benefit from this follow-up refresher opportunity, as they can practice their skills and meet up with like-minded people.
Living Life to the Full may be offered in your area!