December 11, 2023

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Manitoban JC Haney’s path from mental health struggle to nonprofit leadership – Winnipeg

Manitoban JC Haney struggled with mental health for years and he noticed a lot of gaps in the province’s mental health-care system which ultimately led him to pursue leadership of his own non-profit to help bridge those gaps.

For more than a decade, the 26-year-old tells Global News, he has bounced around the public mental healthcare system.

After years of struggling and feeling like help was so far out of reach, Haney says he attempted to take his own life multiple times, which ultimately led him to a psychiatric ward at a Winnipeg hospital.

He says resources were scarce and he was met with lengthy waitlists. Haney says if people want full-on therapy it’s likely going to be through the private sector, which not everyone can afford.

After years of frustration trying to navigate the system and get the help he needed, he was inspired to take action and that’s when he founded a non-profit called the Access to Therapy Initiative.

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Haney says he founded the Initiative in late September, while a full-time student at the University of Winnipeg.

“We provide funding for low-income people and Indigenous people for counselling should they not be able to afford it,” he says

The initiative is funded by donations and helps connect people with the proper resources, as Haney knows firsthand how complex the system can be to navigate.

According to the province’s website, Manitoba has the highest suicide rate of any Canadian province, as well as some of the highest mental health and substance abuse needs in the country.

Clinical Psychologist Dr. Taslim Alani-Verjee says there simply aren’t enough mental health professionals to accommodate the country’s needs.

“Folks are often experiencing pretty lengthy wait times both in the private sphere and public sphere, which brings me to my second roadblock. Most people who are looking to access mental health services (will) be paying out of pocket for that.”

Haney says right now he is focused on helping Winnipeggers, but he does have plans to expand and eventually hopes his nonprofit won’t need to exist because more resources will be available for people who need help.

With files from Global’s Teagan Rasche

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