Brain Institute supports community initiatives
June 15, 2022
TORONTO – The Ontario Brain Institute (OBI) will invest a total of $587,000 in four community-led organizations through its Growing Expertise in Evaluation and Knowledge Translation (GEEK) program. Launched in 2019, the GEEK program provides funding, evaluation expertise, and support to community-led programs and services for people living with brain disorders.
Since its inception, OBI’s GEEK program has provided evaluation support and funding to 12 organizations across the province that address the needs of individuals with a brain disorder, as well as those of their care partners, and build public knowledge about brain health. These programs span system navigation, education and skill building, and intervention programs to improve wellbeing.
Dr. Tom Mikkelsen (pictured), OBI president and scientific director, said, “GEEK supports the sustainability, scale, and spread of these programs, to improve the quality and quantity of evidence-based care in the community. OBI believes it is important to view the community as a key piece to Ontario’s system of care. We hope that this funding will allow our ‘GEEKs’ to continue to roll out brain-health mission-critical services across the province.”
The 2022 OBI ‘GEEKs’ are:
Health Nexus Santé: The Indigenous Brain Story
- The Indigenous Brain Story program will create a revised curriculum for brain neuroscience training by adapting the Brain Story course to Indigenous contexts and implementing the course in up to five communities. The curriculum on brain science will be co-developed and co-led with Indigenous partners, and targeted to Indigenous youth, pregnant individuals, and recent parents with the goal of promoting brain health.
March of Dimes Canada: Living with Stroke – Virtual Delivery in Community Settings
- The Virtual Living with Stroke program is a community-based support and education program for people impacted by stroke, delivered virtually by March of Dimes Canada, and co-facilitated by staff and peer mentors with lived experience of stroke. The goal is to scale the program across Ontario to help participants gain confidence to manage the challenges of living with stroke, and to connect with others going through a similar experience.
Epilepsy Toronto: Functional Seizure Program
- The Functional Seizure Program is an individual evidence-based psychotherapy program for people living with functional seizures that is delivered in a community setting by trained counsellors. The program focuses on increasing a person’s sense of agency as it relates to their condition so as to better their quality of life.
Jewish Immigrant Aid Services (JIAS) Toronto: Mental Health Supportive Initiatives for Vulnerable Newcomers Program
- The new Mental Health Supportive Initiatives Program provides mental health programs for vulnerable newcomers to teach tools to use while experiencing difficult emotions. Different programming methods are used based on the group needs, culture, and language. Programs include a psychoeducational group for teaching and practicing coping skills to manage anxiety and stress.
Collectively, GEEK teams have trained and supported over 1,000 people, have shared or presented knowledge gained from delivering their programs nearly 50 times in various formats, and have leveraged over $530,000 dollars of additional funding.
A client of the Family Navigation Project, a 2021 GEEK recipient, expressed appreciation for the services offered by the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre-based program. “I have experienced a lot of mental health services over the past few years, and this has, by far, been the most timely and personal approach that any specialist has taken. This has been the most timely and personal approach that any specialist has taken.”
Similarly, an individual supported by Kids Can Fly, an Ontario organization supporting mental health in post-partum women (also funded, in part, by GEEK in 2020), said “I can’t say enough good things about Kids Can Fly. The program helped me get through some of the toughest times in my life. I hope you are able to continue to help many more women through the study.”
For more information about the Ontario Brain Institute’s GEEK program, visit braininstitute.ca/geek.