Socializing to Integrate People Better

11 August 2016

The Riel Pavilion at the Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal houses the Psychiatric Program in Intellectual Disabilities. The patients who are admitted to the program have an intellectual disability that comes with or without a persuasive developmental disorder that is sometimes accompanied by severe, refractory mental disorders which, in turn, are often accompanied by severe behavioral problems.

Contrary to what many people believe, an intellectual disability is not a mental illness but rather a permanent state of being with which it is possible to learn to live. At the Institute, practitioners try by all means possible to change the daily lives of those patients who could end up spending months or even years in hospital.

Most patients who are hospitalized or treated in the intellectual disability program come from poor or vulnerable backgrounds. More often than not, families do not have the resources to take adequate care of a family member with a mental disorder and do not have any other choice but to confer the responsibility to our professionals.

Even though our mental health institution offers quality clinical support that is tailored to the needs of each beneficiary, each patient suffers none the less from being away from their family and the limits to social interaction within the walls of the Institute.

To counter this problem, the Foundation and its donors have financed for several years now the creation of a series of social and cultural projects.

For example, the Foundation’s support makes it possible to celebrate the birthday of every patient every year as well as celebrating important holidays like Christmas and Easter. Each day’s festivities are highly emotional and represent a rare moment whereby beneficiaries spend time with family.  These are memorable days that stay forever engrained in the memories of patients.

The Foundation has also contributed to creating a more stimulating environment for its clientele. For example, the Foundation has helped to purchase art supplies, create a community garden, and buy clothing as well as toiletries such as perfume and make-up. The purchase of such products may at first appear to be anodyne but by taking into consideration the tangible benefits for the clients’ self-esteem, such purchases are well worth it.

The Foundation also makes it possible for practitioners to offer a vast range of stimulating activities to their clients. Each year, excursions to the movies, the swimming pool, museums and restaurants are organised for users and these events promote patient socialisation and integration.


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