As 2023 draws to a close we reflect on our work at Across Boundaries and share some key highlights.
Mental Health Retreats for Black LGBQTIA+ Communities
We continued our ongoing collaboration with Adornment Stories, to execute the project ‘Our Stories, Our Voices’ for Black LGBQTIA+ Communities. This is a multi-year project, which saw several activities, including two holistic, healing, and engaging retreats for 10 Black queer and trans individuals currently navigating their mental health journeys. As we near completion of the project, we also held The Gathering: Conversations on Mental Health! At this event, participants, as members of the Black 2SLGBTQ+ community, shared insights about envisioning, constructing, and nurturing a world that embraces the community wholeheartedly and celebrating resilience, creativity, and the beauty of a shared journey.
Advancements in the Mental Health and Justice Program
This year there were many referrals to the ‘Mental Health and Justice and Short-Term Crisis Bed’ programs. We responded to a defined need in the community and increased our presence on city wide committees like SPIDER tables, FOCUS tables and in courtrooms. These engagements enabled us to better support service users with complex needs, from point of release, and assist in their re-connection to society.
We also participated on various tables; provincial, national, and local such as the Health System Advisory Council, Ontario Structured Psychotherapy Advisory Committee, Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Expert Advisory Committee on mental health and cannabis use, and Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Committee- Toronto region, to name a few. Additionally, we chaired the Ontario Structured Psychotherapy (OSP)- Health Equity Task Group, which created a paper outlining health equity priorities for the OSP programs. These recommendations are applicable across many areas. See report here.
Advancing Thought Leadership and Education:
In the realm of thought leadership and education, Across Boundaries demonstrated its commitment to knowledge dissemination and collaboration throughout the year.
- On July 13, our Executive Director, Aseefa Sarang, received an invitation to an exclusive afternoon tea organized for “Women of Influence” by the esteemed Fouzia Younis, British Consul General to Toronto, furthering our engagement and networking with a wide range of people whose work touches and enhances our work.
- On November 15th, Aseefa assumed the role of a speaker in a webinar titled ‘Mental Health and The High Cost of Living,’ contributing valuable insights to the discourse with over 300 registered participants.
- Our commitment to global knowledge sharing was exemplified when we hosted a 13-member team from Auckland, New Zealand’s Housing-First Program. During this visit, we shared our experiences and learnings from the At-Home/Chez Soi program, fostering international awareness in addressing houselessness, its’ challenges, and opportunities.
- Additionally, our impact extended locally as we provided education to over 700 individuals through our Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression Training program, aimed at addressing disparities in health outcomes for racialized and Black communities engaged with the health sector.
Through these diverse initiatives, we remained dedicated to advancing thought leadership, fostering collaboration, and promoting education on critical issues.
Fostering Connection with Across Boundaries Alumni
We interviewed one of our past service users, Sirene Qureshi, who graduated from Across Boundaries, but continues to maintain a strong connection to our organization.
Despite all odds, after receiving multiple diagnoses including schizophrenia, Sirene is living proof that seeking help and taking control of your mental health can result in remarkable opportunities, allowing you to achieve your dreams and goals, even beyond your expectations.
While it wasn’t easy, Sirene is now the author of three books, and an inspirational advocate for others. She is a reminder of why we show up to work every day, to help our participants be the best version of themselves. We are so proud of Sirene!
Received not One but Two Awards!
The Canada Awards for Excellence (CAE) in Mental Health Work
We achieved the Canada Awards for Excellence (CAE): Silver Certification in Mental Health at Work. This award reflects our dedication to building a healthy work culture that not only supports our incredible staff but also enhances the care for those we serve.
Accreditation Canada – Decision
A truly proud moment to end our year with – notification from The Accreditation Decision Committee (ADC) on our results. We have been granted the award of ‘Accredited with Exemplary Standing’ under the Qmentum accreditation program of Accreditation Canada. We celebrate this milestone for our commitment and provision of safe, high quality health services, with our Board, Staff, Service Users, Caregivers and Community Partners.
Canadian Patient Safety Week (CPSW)
We participated in CPSW, the national campaign hosted annually by Excellence Canada during October 23rd-27th. The primary goal of our participation in the campaign was to enhance safety for our service users and elevate the overall quality of care.
We joined Healthcare Excellence Canada to champion a new approach to patient safety and harm reduction. We encourage our staff to stay curious, have discussions, and motivate others to pose questions freely. On our part, we wanted to contribute to a culture of continuous learning and improvement which supports our commitment to the safety of our service users. We recognized staff who were dedicated to Patient Safety throughout the week.
Donation Drive Spin VFX – an example of Corporate Generosity
We celebrated the holiday spirit through a donation drive with Spin VFX. This Toronto and Atlanta-based VFX studio donated over 200 essential products to support our service users experiencing mental health and addiction challenges.
As we approach the year’s end, we would like to thank all donors for their generous contributions! You still have an opportunity to extend your support and continue shaping a brighter, healthier future for all. Consider making a difference with a year-end donation.
Overall, in 2023, we served 1,088 service users.
This kind of work impacts you in ways that aren’t always easy to articulate in words. It has been our aspiration to transform lives and propel individuals toward empowerment, enabling them to break through societal and cultural barriers at the individual and systemic levels. We look forward to continue to support even more individuals in the years to come!