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CAMH Stories Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

This here’s a jam for all the fellas

Men’s self-care event promotes mental and physical health for DTC, AMS clients

Mike Hajmasy

If you’ve noticed an unusual number of moustaches occupying upper lips everywhere, you aren’t imagining things. It’s November, known otherwise as Movember by many: a month dedicated to men’s mental and physical health. The trademark moustache is not only a fashion statement, but a sign of solidarity and support for the cause.

With this in mind, Paulette Walker, Peer Support Worker with Drug Treatment Court (DTC) Services, saw a timely opportunity to host a special event for the male DTC and Addiction Medicine Services (AMS) clients at CAMH. 

Gifts of LightPaulette Walker (second from left) and David Lucas, Social Worker, DTC (far right) worked alongside staff and volunteers from Gifts of Light (L to R): Alex Lusis, Quinn Kirby, Ipek Tezol and Ashley Hong to make the event happen. 

"We wanted a full day dedicated to our male clients, and for it to be all about self-care,” she explains. “We’ve hosted self-care events for our female clients in the past, and typically the men enjoy other outings like seeing movies at Scotiabank Theatre or watching the Blue Jays play live. But we wanted to try something different.”

With full support from Gifts of Light (GoL), Paulette’s vision for the day came to life with clients enjoying a ‘sports challenge’ hosted by Volunteer Services in the morning, and a packed afternoon featuring:  

  • ​Mindfulness stretching by GoL volunteer Lesley Soldat
  • A lunch and learn session focused on the importance of healthy eating hosted by CAMH Dietician Michelle Brotherwood. Clients enjoyed a complimentary Subway lunch while they played a game of jeopardy.
  • Manicures with hand and shoulder massages provided by Gifts of Light volunteers
  • Haircuts and beard trims by barbers from Marca College of Hair and Esthetics
  • Gift bags, which included socks, toothbrushes, shaving cream, men’s hair products and other toiletries. Winners of the raffle draw took home movie passes, winter toques and a voucher for a haircut at the local Bellwoods Barbers.

Volunteer gives client a hand massage
Putting the man in manicure. GoL volunteer Lesley Soldat gives one client a hand massage and manicure as part of the self-care event.

The day was hugely successful overall,” says David Lucas, Social Worker, DTC. “Our clients got the ‘spa treatment’, everyone had some fun, and we managed to sneak a few vegetables in there, too. Being able to offer a healthy meal alongside a day that focused on nutrition and self-care was important.” 

CAMH client Theo says he enjoyed “reconnecting with people who have the same goals of health. I felt a sense of belonging after feeling depressed and alone.” 

“It felt great to have my face and head shaved,” he adds. “It felt so refreshing that I’ve used my own clippers to shave daily ever since, which I feel is a good thing for myself.” 

Clients haircutLook good, feel good. Student barbers Brian, Jordan and Alec from the Marca College of Hair went to work trimming beards, cutting hair and having a laugh with the clients in their chairs. 

Richard, another client says “the food was good and I really enjoyed the Jeopardy game we played over lunch. I know we all walked away happy and feeling good.” 

“I could see on our clients’ faces that they enjoyed the day. The turnout was much greater than expected, and the fact that most of the 30-person group stuck around until the very end – beyond the free lunch – says a lot,” adds Paulette. “They really wanted to be there.”

Plans to make this a recurring event

vents like these are great opportunities to introduce people and businesses in the community to CAMH, “and to establish strong partnerships,” explains Ashley Hong, Gifts of Light Program Coordinator. “All three barbers from Marca expressed interest in coming back, so we’ll be looking for ways to make that happen.” 

The group has only just started to put ideas together, but is considering a simplified version of this event that would feature a movie screening and complimentary haircuts that could take place more frequently throughout the year. 

Most of the men who attended this event rely on basic social assistance to live,” David adds. “Getting a haircut, beard trim, manicure or massage is truly a luxury when you depend on subsidized housing, free meals and food banks to get by. 

So if we can be the ones to offer that – even if it’s just a couple times per year – that’s great.” 

Learn more about the impact of Gifts of Light.

Published on November 28, 2017​​​

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