REMINDER: VCH SPEAKER SERIES April 27
Topic: “Therapeutic Relationships – Beyond the Labels”
The Me and My Doc Talks series promotes best practice within mental health and substance use, along with a look at how stigma in the medical system can affect clients.
The speaker series is not just for mental health and substance use staff and physicians. Erika Weikle, a Peer Care Coordinator with the Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team explains, “We want other health care practitioners to hear these stories. Our clients and patients are often exposed to other areas within the health care system, and their interaction at any point in their care is critical to their recovery process.”
No one understands that process better than Weikle. She herself was a patient at VGH years ago after suffering a psychotic episode in university at the age of 19. That was followed by heavy drug use. Her experience with her psychiatrist Dr. Andrzej Koczapski was pivotal in her recovery. Now, five and a half years into her recovery, she is looking for ways to help others. The speaker series is just one of the ways she supports both colleagues and clients. She started the series with the help and support of Dr. Soma Ganesan, Head & Medical Director, Department of Psychiatry; and Monica McAlduff, Director, Mental Health & Substance Use.
The first Me and My Doc Talks was on January 19th – Focusing on your Client’s Potential for Recovery – with Weikle and Dr. Koczapski. The one on April 27 is with Natasha Kolida and her psychiatrist, Dr. Garth Kroeker.
Kolida’s journey started when she was in her teens. There were signs of mental health issues but, like many families, it wasn’t talked about. It was taboo. She was finally diagnosed with bipolar in university at the age of 21. She had run the gamut of depression, psychosis, self-harm and attempted suicide. Her partner urged her to seek help.
It was the turning point in her life. She started seeing her current psychiatrist during her Master’s program. “He was the first doctor to ask me if I was happy with my care,” explains Kolida. “The meds keep me stable, but there are other aspects that I need to address and I’m doing that with him.”.
She is participating in the Me and My Doc Talks because she wants to talk about the positive impact of this therapeutic relationship, but she also wants people to hear how her struggle with mental health has positively affected her. “It’s because of my struggle that I am the person I am today, and am doing the things I’m doing,” says Kolida.
She’s currently doing a Master’s degree at UBC in Human Development, Learning, & Culture and plans to start a PhD program next year. She was studying psychology in her undergrad program when she met (and now works with) CREST.BD (the Collaborative RESearch Team) to study psychosocial issues in bipolar. She is a peer researcher with CREST.BD and works to promote knowledge exchange.
Her Master’s program carries on this educational psychology approach. Her goal is to help policy makers, healthcare providers, and educators better understand mental health and mental illness in an attempt to decrease the stigma associated with it. Attend the session on April 27 to find out more.
This session is open to all employees and attendance certificates for Continuing Education are available upon request. Register at CCRS, or watch the webinar. This series is facilitated and hosted by George Scotton and Vancouver ACT team.