“I work at the Out of this World Café at CAMH and love it. For those of you who don’t know, Out of this World Café is a café and espresso bar on the grounds of CAMH that serves up awesome coffee and some of the best homemade sandwiches on the Queen St. strip, if I don’t say so myself. But it is way more than that. It’s what’s called a Social Purpose Enterprise – a fancy expression for a business that helps people like me work. I have had severe depression all my life and that has made finding and keeping a steady job pretty much impossible. Out of this World Café is the first place where I’ve been able to earn steady wages and work in a supportive environment.
I’m not being over the top when I say this job means my health and sanity. I’ve been working at Out of this World Café since 1998 and haven’t fallen into a deep depression since I started. Sure, I still have some bad times, but I haven’t been hospitalized. This job has made all the difference. I get energy from my work. I like to be busy and I like serving people. It feels good to have someplace to go everyday where I know I’m valued. I really wish I’d had this opportunity when I was younger. It taught me that having a mental illness does not mean I don’t have anything to offer an employer.
I wish that people would be more understanding of those who have a mental illness. Then people wouldn’t feel so isolated. There are people who don’t leave the house because they can see that others don’t understand their illness, and therefore misunderstand them. If we can accept people who have a physical illness or disability, why can’t we accept mental illness? There is nothing to fear from someone with a mental illness. They want to work, earn a living, and contribute to life in their community just like everyone else. They say that 1 in every 5 people will suffer from a mental illness sometime in their life. Does that mean you should be scared of 20 per cent of the population? Do you believe 20 per cent of the population shouldn’t be able to have a job? No. They can. I’m living proof of that.
What do I imagine for our city? I want other people with mental health issues to enjoy better health, a job they can go to if they’re able, and someone to talk to. Sometimes just having one person who will listen helps get you through the hard spells. People think it’s crazy when I say this, but I wish we could all be just be a little nicer to each other. Why can’t we all show each other just a little more respect? It seems simple to me. More respect = better city for all. What do you think?