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By Keith Knight

New Day and You Are Not Alone (Y.A.N.A)

Article by Dorothy Solomon, art courtesy Dadu Shin

Mental illness is exactly that, an illness. Each person who suffers is a unique creation of God and the experience of the various forms of mental illness have unique impacts on every individual and every individual’s family. Those who suffer from mental illness and those who love and support them, bear the extra burden of stigma. Often people feel shame and inadequacy as they try to manage in the fast pace of our culture and the high standards of achievement that society puts on them. Support from caring communities is needed as individuals seek the best treatment options, learn about their illness and discover best coping skills that will help them live the most meaningful life possible. They need the support of their faith communities.

“New Day” and “You Are Not Alone” (Y.A.N.A.) support groups attempt to address mental health from the perspective of the spiritual component. Medical science does not have an approach that includes this aspect. In a non-judgemental, accepting, understanding setting these groups walk with others on their journey of discovery and recovery. The participants are encouraged, given hope and find a sense of purpose for their lives because of their involvement.

New Day is a volunteer Christian outreach which supports a spiritual journey toward mental wellness through faith sharing. This faith based, non-therapeutic, support group is for individuals living with a mental illness, whether transitioning from hospital or already living in the community and is run by caring volunteers. New Day is for any person with a mental illness seeking spiritual insight through reflection and sharing of personal experiences. All denominations and faiths are welcome. The hour and a half meetings are conversational and have two parts. The first is a discussion around an inspirational quote. The second uses a quote from the Bible, or other spiritual reflection allowing participants to identify and share spiritual thoughts. Both parts of the meeting are facilitated and guided by reflective questions. New Day is committed to honouring the uniqueness of each person’s story in an environment that is supportive, safe, accepting and hopeful. New Day is important because all life altering experiences bring people to the most fundamental questions about meaning and purpose. For individuals with faith belief, these questions involve their understanding of God. Providing a place to express thoughts and feelings is strengthening.

Y. A.N.A. is similar in its approach as a Christian, faith-based support group for people supporting a loved one with a mental illness. It too is a non-therapeutic group run by volunteers. Participants in Y.A.N.A. share a similar life experience and see value in exploring their faith for strength and deeper meaning in the face of mental illness in those they care about. While Christian in content, anyone interested is welcome to come and explore how God is present in their journey. The hour and half meetings are conversational and have two parts. In the first we discuss practical aspects of the struggles and successes of supporting someone with mental illness. In the second we use a quote from the Bible or other spiritual reading to reflect on how God is present in our lives. It honours the uniqueness of each person’s story in an environment that is supportive, safe, accepting and hopeful. Y.A.N.A. is vital because families are most often the primary caregivers for their loved ones and this is a place of encouragement that helps maintain balance, courage and spiritual strength in the face of a myriad of challenges. Some of the coping tasks may be alleviating fear of their loved ones future, caregiver fatigue, frustrations in navigating the medical system and the burden of stigma.

If you desire further information, want to talk to someone if this is a good fit for you or someone you love, please call our volunteer line at 226 980-8924; or email at Calls are monitored regularly and someone will get back in touch with you.