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Cooking Connections: Overcoming Stigma

AMHS-KFLA, in collaboration with Loving Spoonful, HIV/AIDS Regional Services, and Queen’s University, recently delivered the third session of Cooking Connections: a 10-week program offering individuals cooking lessons, combined with support and education on overcoming mental health stigma and social isolation.

The cooking component has been a significant draw for those getting involved, while discussions and learning on overcoming stigma and self-stigma have offered an additional experience that is receiving  spectacular reviews. Through conversations and training in ways to manage stigma, participants have increased their inclusion in the community, for example by moving to their own apartment, getting a new job, volunteering, going back to school, strengthening friendships, or deepening their understanding of the symptoms and illnesses they experience.  As the program has evolved, some participants have completed training to become peer facilitators for the Overcoming Stigma component of the program.

Staff and Peer Facilitators celebrate their presentation at Queen’s Public Health Science event

On Friday, November 17, two of these facilitators were invited to participate on a panel during Queen’s Public Health Science Day at the Tett Centre. Their presentation made a big impact on students and faculty gathered for the event, who delivered a standing ovation to the pair. Dr. Heather Stuart, Bell Canada Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair at Queen’s, wrote to formally thank the facilitators: “I think that the students and faculty were overwhelmed.  The feedback has been spectacular…the standing ovation was fantastic and well deserved.”

Stay tuned for one more session of Cooking Connections in the new year, to wrap up this phase of the program. Cooking Connections is made possible thanks to the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

 

Cooking Connections participants enjoy their time together in the kitchen