Years ago, near the end of a six month stay in hospital, a psychiatrist who really cared about me discharged me into a small options home. It was a comfortable duplex with two other women living with mental illness, a supportive roommate, and a counsellor working an eight-hour day each day in the house.  I wasn’t sure I needed or wanted to be there, but I liked that I had my own relatively private room in the basement, and the people around to keep me from sinking into abject depression.   

The small options home was run by Metro Community Housing Association (MCHA), a not-for-profit housing agency supporting people living with mental illness. MCHA is set apart from many private, for profit housing agencies in that it has a board of directors and operates not only small options homes, but four other kinds of housing options. These include a residential care facility for 35 residents that need assistance with daily living tasks; group homes that are staffed 24 hours a day; a supported apartment program, where individuals live independently with some support services; and a community transition house for residents who have received a conditional discharge from the East Coast Forensic Hospital.      

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“We like to see people move through the various options toward greater independence”, says MCHA Executive Director Cathy Crouse.

Along the way, MCHA works to provide or help residents access the supports and opportunities they need for self-determination and personal growth.

After spending several years in the small options home, I felt ready to move out into my own apartment. I connected with someone who was meant to be a supportive roommate for me, but that relationship did not work out. I ended up in hospital again and the roommate moved on at my request.

When I was discharged, I moved back to my apartment on my own, with weekly visits from my MCHA Case Manager. I got a job, built up my self-confidence again and eventually, felt ready to “graduate” to living without the services of Metro Community Housing.

Looking back, I can see what a gradual process it was for me to get to that point and how lucky I was to have the support of “Metro” for those few years. Even though I have since ended up in hospital again several times, I had a good ten years of recovery between them and I owe my wellness in part to the help I received from MCHA.

My slow unfolding, patiently attended by MCHA staff, was not something I could have managed on my own.   I’m glad to know that “Metro” is still there, helping people who live with mental illness work toward independence, in the belief that all of us have the potential for growth and the right to make choices that affect our lives.   

Clients supported by Metro Community Housing Association must be eligible to receive funding through the Department of Community Services, Services for Persons with Disabilities Program.  MCHA is open to requests for information about their services by individuals living with mental illness, their families and health care/support professionals.

Contact MCHA by calling 453-6444 or by email at info@mcha.ns.ca.

Visit them online at www.mcha.ns.ca 

About Anna Quon

Anna is an accomplished freelance/creative writer and writing workshop facilitator. She lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.  She is passionate about many things, especially writing. It is through her writing, and her volunteer work with community organizations, that Anna honours the lives of people who, like her, are living with mental illness.

In 2008, Anna received the Inspiring Lives Award from the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia. In 2009, Anna published her first novel titled Migration Songs which was shortlisted for the Dartmouth Book Award.

Visit Anna's website.