“Many of the people that we see have stopped giving themselves the chance of even having a positive experience, let alone having the motivation to engage in their own health care.”
~ Art Therapist
HIV diagnosis often triggers mental health issues
Being diagnosed with HIV is a highly traumatic event, even today with the success of lifelong pharmaceutical therapies.
The diagnosis marks the turning point from a previously “normal” life, into one that becomes a daily interaction with the disease – whether that’s the acceptance of a daily regime of medication, changing interpersonal dynamics, the consequent risks of stigma, or addressing any physical ailments that can alter career and professional aspirations.
For many, this singular event can mark the beginning of challenges to their mental health, and for some can lead to addiction.
Helping those with mental illness through the many challenges they face in order to view themselves as whole people leading rewarding lives is the primary aim of the Dr. Peter Centre.
Mental health and HIV
Challenges with mental health are commonplace among our clients.
Recent snapshots of our Centre’s population revealed that those with a diagnosed mental health condition make up 78% of our Day Health Program participants, and 88% of those living in our 24-hour residential care facility.
The range of conditions is broad, with wide-reaching demands for intricate and sensitive care. Most typical is depression, followed closely by PTSD, anxiety, and stress, then addiction and various forms of psychosis, which can sometimes be drug-induced.
The side-effects of HIV medication itself can also result in mental health issues. Facial wasting is one such effect, prompting stigmatization which then leads to body image issues that often spirals into depression and/or anxiety. The medication can also cause HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders including early-onset dementia, and other brain deteriorations.
The Dr. Peter Centre mental health team
The Dr. Peter Centre is equipped with a robust and multi-disciplinary team of professionals all geared to addressing the mental health concerns of each individual participant on any given day.
We call this “meeting people where they are”.
In the course of a single visit, an individual might have several points of contact with members of our staff and clinical team. With every interaction, individuals experience the face-to-face, one-on-one conversations that build and maintain a caring community of support.
This style of “relationship-based counselling” could be as simple as starting a conversation while playing cards. This style of engagement works well for our participants, who have often experienced harsh treatment and stigma when in traditional health institution settings. With trust established, clients can choose to enter into in-depth, one-on-one counselling and experience a greater probability of success.
Foremost the Dr. Peter Centre offers is a safe place where community emerges through building empathetic relationships, mutual support and shared understanding.