ICMH offers a variety of programs and opportunities for adults aged 19 and over who are experiencing any mental health challenges.

At Island Community Mental Health each person is treated as an individual, and we listen to your choices and encourage you to take risks.

Our services are designed to promote hope and recovery and offer people experiencing a mental illness the supports needed to achieve success in their life.

We can by promoting individual recovery through evidence-based programs, housing, community partnerships, client and family involvement.

What We Offer


We offer a variety of workshops combined with one-to-one support designed to assist individuals in their recovery.



We offer 3 forms of housing: Supported Housing, Independent Housing, Licensed Residential Care



Supported Education works with adults (19 and over) experiencing a mental illness and/or substance use issues who want to pursue education.



 Individualized support for individuals recovering from mental health challenges to find and maintain paid employment of their choosing.


Mental Health Disorders often have no visible manifestations and, therefore, may go unnoticed. Experiencing a mental illness may be isolating, sometimes feel frightening or embarrassing and may seem overwhelming. Whether you have a mental illness, or are someone with a loved one who has a mental illness, you need to know that experiencing a mental illness is not the end of the road and that recovery is possible. At Island Community Mental Health, we know that it is possible to have a mental illness and still lead a life that is fulfilling, with the capacity to work, enjoy recreational activities, volunteer, develop relationships and be an active member of your community.

The most frequent reason identified (by far) by Canadians in a survey of 1600 Canadians in four geographic regions, for why they would not seek professional help for a perceived mental disorder, was the stigma they associated with having a disorder, and someone’s finding out they were in treatment. This despite the fact that depression, for example, is more treatable than most physical illnesses, but without treatment is very likely to be ongoingly disabling.

If you wonder about yourself, or someone you care about, you should ask your doctor for an assessment.


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What Are The Causes?

A complex interplay of genetic, biological, personality and environmental factors causes mental illnesses.

Almost one half (49%) of those who feel they have suffered from depression or anxiety have never gone to see a doctor about this problem. Stigma or discrimination attached to mental illnesses presents a serious barrier, not only to diagnosis and treatment but also to acceptance in the community.

Mental illnesses can be treated effectively.

What Are The Economic Costs?

The economic cost of mental illnesses in Canada for the health care system was estimated to be at least $7.9 billion in 1998 – $4.7 billion in care, and $3.2 billion in disability and early death.

An additional $6.3 billion was spent on uninsured mental health services and time off work for depression and distress that was not treated by the health care system.

Sources: The Report on Mental Illness in Canada, October 2002. EBIC 1998 (Health Canada 2002), Stephens et al., 2001

How Common Are Mental Health Disorders?

Schizophrenia affects 1% of the Canadian population.

Anxiety disorders affect 5% of the household population, causing mild to severe impairment.

Suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds and 16% among 25-44 year olds.

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in both men and women from adolescence to middle age.

The mortality rate due to suicide among men is four times the rate among women.

Who Is Affected?

20% of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime.

Mental illness affects people of all ages, educational and income levels, and cultures.

Approximately 8% of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives.

About 1% of Canadians will experience bipolar disorder (or “manic depression”).

Cited from: Canadian Mental Health Association

What Are Mental Health Disorders ?

Mental Health Disorders are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood or behaviour associated with significant distress and impaired functioning.

There are several categories of mental health disorders, including:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – ongoing, extreme tension that interferes with daily functioning. Constant worry, even when there is nothing to worry about.
Panic Disorder – overwhelming feeling of being in danger, with several physical symptoms such as sweating, shaking, chest pains, dizziness, nausea, chills, hot feverish feeling, etc. For most people these episodes come on with little or no warning, so the fear of having one may prevent a person from going out, driving, attending a certain activity, for example, where an attack happened previously.
Phobias – uncontrollable, irrational, and ongoing fear of a specific place, thing, or activity. For example, many people may be afraid of poisonous snakes, and this is quite rational. But some are just as afraid of garter snakes, or house spiders, which are not in any way dangerous. To the extent that the fear is great, and interferes with daily activities, it can be seen as a phobia.
Social Phobia/Social Anxiety Disorder – Significant or extreme discomfort associated with social situations. Many people are shy or anxious about going to social gatherings. This condition is reflecting a much more extreme reaction, almost to the point of the symptoms expressed above in the section on Panic Disorder. NB: this is the condition most often associated with suicidal thoughts, which is evidence of the pain experienced by people with this condition.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – Obsessions are frequently-occurring irrational thoughts that cause great anxiety but cannot be controlled by reasoning. Compulsions are rituals that a person feels compelled to go through in attempting to control his or her anxieties. Examples of compulsive behaviours might be: finger tapping of a certain duration, excessive cleaning, always walking into a room in a certain direction.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – A person who has survived a severe physical or emotional event, will, if he/she has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, re-experience it frequently through flashbacks or realistic nightmares. Other symptoms may include sleep disorders, feelings of guilt, hopelessness, depression, feeling numb or detached, and unable to experience usual feelings of caring or love, for example. Often with anxiety disorders there is a co-existing disorder, such as clinical depression or/and substance abuse.

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is an illness involving one or more episodes of serious mania and depression. The illness causes a person’s mood to swing from excessively “high” and/or irritable to sad and hopeless, with periods of a normal mood in between. More than 2 million Americans suffer from bipolar disorder.

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Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a serious psychiatric illness. People with BPD have difficulty regulating their emotions and controlling their impulses. They often act out their emotions or impulses, either through intense displays of anger, or through self-injurious or suicidal behavior. Although self-injury often occurs without suicidal intent, a significant number of people with BPD die by suicide. Despite the seriousness of the disorder, recent research indicates that treatment can lead to considerable improvement over time, and there is hope for recovery.

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This set of conditions is descriptive of behaviours or pervasive traits, rather than what is called Axis I disorders. They are usually terms for clusters of behaviours and these are often characteristic of disruptive lifestyles.

Some of the clusters are:  

  • eccentric (paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal)
  • impulsive (histrionic, narcissistic, antisocial, borderline)
  • dependent (compulsive, avoidant, dependent, passive-aggressive).

Often the person feels mistreated or misjudged – exhibiting a hypersensitivity to being unfairly treated. They may also exhibit restricted feelings: lack of sense of humour, absence of tender feelings, pride in being cold and unemotional. They can be often connected to abuse in childhood. Often a sense of abandonment. Considerable manipulation issues.

Treatment is highly specific, and cognitive behavioural therapy or Dialectical Behavioural Therapy is often recommended.

From a pamphlet on Borderline Personality Disorder, “2% of the population has it, 75% of those diagnosed with it are women, 20% of psychiatric inpatients have that diagnosis, 54% of those with it also have a substance use disorder, 75% have been physically or sexually abused, most are bright, funny, witty, the ‘life of the party’.” . . . adults who are uncertain of the truth of their own feelings and who are confronted by 3 “dialectics” they have failed to master:

  • vulnerability vs. invalidation
  • active passivity vs. apparent competence
  • unremitting crises vs. inhibited grief

Depression, sometimes combined with anxiety disorder, is the most prevalent mental illness and, in its most severe forms, can be life threatening. There have been estimates that depression costs the Canadian economy millions of dollars a year in lost productivity, absenteeism from work, and other indirect costs including hospitalization, medication that is subsidized, etc.

Some pertinent facts:  

  • clinical depression is more than just “the blues”.
  • Women are diagnosed twice as often with depression than are men.

Symptoms of depression include:  

  • a persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood. Irritability.
  • change to sleep pattern or appetite. Often, early morning waking with the inability to return to sleep is a symptom.
  • loss of interest or pleasure in things you used to enjoy
  • fatigue, loss of energy
  • difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
  • thoughts of death or suicide


Mood Disorders Assocation 
offers two support groups in Victoria, plus many others in British Columbia.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – ongoing, extreme tension that interferes with daily functioning. Constant worry, even when there is nothing to worry about.
Panic Disorder – overwhelming feeling of being in danger, with several physical symptoms such as sweating,

Panic disorder is characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by very disturbing physical symptoms. These sensations often mimic symptoms of a heart attack or other life-threatening medical conditions. As a result, the diagnosis of panic disorder is frequently not made until extensive and costly medical procedures fail to provide a correct diagnosis or relief.

People with panic disorder experience frequent, unprovoked panic responses that involve some or all of the following symptoms:

  • accelerated heartbeat
  • sweating
  • trembling/shaking
  • sensations of smothering or shortness of breath
  • feeling that you are choking
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • nausea
  • dizziness, unsteadiness, lightheadedness or faintness
  • feelings of unreality or detachment from oneself
  • fear of losing control or going “crazy”
  • fear of dying
  • chills or hot flashes

Did you know . . .

  • In a given year, 1 to 2% of the Canadian population experiences panic disorder.
  • Women are twice as likely as men to develop panic disorder.
  • Panic disorder often occurs in young adulthood, but is evident in all age ranges, from children to the elderly.
  • Roughly half of all people who have panic disorder develop the condition before age 24.

A serious brain disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels and behaves. Symptoms can include:

  •  hallucinations (hearing or seeing something that isn’t there)
  • delusions or fixed false ideas
  • disorganized thinking
  • deterioration of work performance
  • change of personality
  • social withdrawal
  • apathy
  • unresponsiveness
  • and lack of drive.
  •  hallucinations (hearing or seeing something that isn’t there)
  • delusions or fixed false ideas
  • disorganized thinking
  • deterioration of work performance
  • change of personality
  • social withdrawal
  • apathy
  • unresponsiveness
  • and lack of drive.

Symptoms can develop slowly over several months or they can appear suddenly.

There may be periods of remission and relapse.

Early treatment of an initial episode is very important.

Onset (the beginning of the illness) usually happens in early adulthood (late teens or early 20s).

Support Groups

BC Schizophreia Society

Schizophrenia Society of Canada

Start your journey by contacting one of our helpful staff members and find out about one of the great programs we offer.


“I feel like we are a family here.”

BRIDGE Centre Client

“I love coming here…I wouldn’t miss it for anything!”

Seniors’ Support Network Client

“At Grow they don’t know me by my diagnosis, but for who I am.”

Grow Client

“The housing and maintenance staff at ICMH are caring and supportive.”

C.P. Supported Housing Client

“Since coming to NetWorks, my self esteem and self confidence have grown. I would refer anyone looking for work to NetWorks.”

NetWorks Employment Solutions Client

Recreation, Employment, Education, Housing

Our goal is to help individuals experiencing mental health challenges by promoting individual recovery through evidence-based programs, housing, community partnerships, client and family involvement. Island Community Mental Health is here to help.