Forum offers insight on ‘housing first’ strategy in Chilliwack

Dr. Julian Somers will speak on his work regarding the links between public health, public safety and mental health.

Dr. Julian Somers

Dr. Julian Somers

A free public event for the community of Chilliwack is planned by Chilliwack Healthier Community (CHC) for the evening of May 26, at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre. Keynote speaker Dr. Julian Somers will give a poignant presentation on his work regarding the links between public health, public safety and mental health.

Dr. Somers is the lead for the “At Home” study in Vancouver, a research demonstration project on mental health and homelessness which investigated the effectiveness of “housing first”. Housing First is an approach to addressing homelessness, where people are provided with a place to live and then offered recovery-oriented services and supports that best meet their individual needs. Housing First programs have worked in numerous communities across the country, largely because they are all about understanding that choice gives an individual their autonomy.  That freedom to “self-govern” allows for a sense of self-investment, and therefore opens the door to reflect on the possibility of a healthier life.

Dr. Somers will describe the results of the At Home study, and will present additional research connecting public safety with mental health.

Since the forum series they hosted in early 2014, Chilliwack Healthier Community (CHC) has been working to forge partnerships and collaborations between multiple agencies and organizations to address homelessness, mental health and addictions, public safety and healthy lifestyles. The complexity of these issues require taking into account the events and factors that play into them, looking at the human experiences and traumas that bring people to addictions and homelessness, and how intricately mental health is woven into everything.

There will be opportunity for discussion, both with Dr. Somers, and in smaller facilitated groups, so that CHC can take community feedback into the work they will be doing for the next year.

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