December 2, 2019

Slippers for Mental Health

The season of gift giving is upon us and millions of Canadians will be unwrapping a little something that will make their holidays a little brighter. Most will unwrap in the comforts of their home, but unfortunately, there are those that will find themselves at the emergency centre of CAMH, the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health where the Gifts of Light will be able to offer them additional support. A pair of slippers, an amenity kit, art therapy and pajamas are all items often on the wish list of those entering CAMH. And through the generosity of Canadians that support the Gifts of Light program throughout the holiday season, patients will be able to unwrap them, as needed, at CAMH. We chatted with CAMH's director of Gifts of Light, Quinn Kirby, about the program. —Vita Daily


Hi Quinn. Please tell us about the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health.

CAMH is the country’s largest mental health teaching hospital and one of the world's leading research centres. It is also home a dedicated 24-7 Psychiatric Emergency Department, the only of its kind in the province.

What is the Gifts of Light program? What is the goal and how does it work?

Gifts of Light is a 100 per cent donation-funded program to improve patient experiences while they are getting care at CAMH. For some patients, that is a fresh set of pajamas, a warm set of mittens or the opportunity to take a yoga class. During the holidays, it means giving every single patient a gift or experience that lets them know they matter. Each year, the program helps more than 13,000 patients at the facility, with the team behind Gifts of Light working with clinical staff to offer support to those in need.

What are some of the gifts available? Best sellers?

There is really something for everyone and every budget. I really love our Emergency Kit because it is so practical. Many of our patients arrive at the hospital with nothing, so this kit gives them a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, some toiletries and a pair of socks. Something so small can provide such comfort during a vulnerable time. Another favourite of mine is through our partnership with Toronto’s Furniture Bank. For $84, you can basically outfit someone’s home as they transition out of the hospital. They arrive at the facility, where they're able to walk through a warehouse filled with donated furniture, pick out the items that they need to furnish their place of residence, and have it delivered within 24 hours. Transitioning back into the community is such a huge milestone in a patient’s journey, so it’s really special that we’re able to provide them with the resources they need to make their home a safe place that they can be proud of.

What is the impact on CAMH patients?

I can’t begin to explain the impact this program has on patients. Imagine breaking your arm and having to spend the night in a hospital when you haven’t packed a bag. It would be stressful, right? Gifts of Light is able to address some of the daily patients stresses so that people can focus on what matters: their recovery.

How can Canadians help?

Do some holiday shopping at! But also check the site year-round. Our work never stops.

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