Category Archives: Substance Abuse

Merging Pathways – Liberty Village and Yonge & Eglinton Locations

“Speaking with a mental health professional is no longer associated to one experiencing a crisis. Having a therapist is now a part of a healthy lifestyle” – KMA client

In thinking about the differences between the population, age groups, and many different concerns that I see at our Liberty Village and Yonge & Eglinton locations, I realized how similar we all are in terms of our human behavior. We are all striving to be happy, content, and peaceful with our work and the many relationships in our life. Where we differ is in the path we take towards feeling better about ourselves. Some choose to find their path on their own and some choose to seek professional help.

As an intake therapist, I am fortunate enough to have spoken to many people of different cultures, age groups, and populations. The one thing I find that the people at both our Liberty Village and Yonge & Eglinton locations have in common is that all of them are seeking to speak with a professional in order to maintain a fulfilled life, regardless of their presenting concern.

Let us take a look at the statistics below with regards to the gender and age groups at our Liberty Village vs. Yonge & Eglinton locations.

Both locations have a higher percentage of females, but as you can see, the male population is not far behind. Clients of both genders are willing to connect with mental health professionals to help them grow in their personal and professional life.


The Yonge & Eglinton location is becoming a residential area with growing families and so I witness more couple clients compared to the Liberty Village location.


In terms of the population and age groups, statistics show that both Liberty Village and Yonge & Eglinton have a higher percentage of people between the ages of 20-25 years.



As an intake therapist, I am very proud to see that people are willing to talk about their feelings, insecurities, anxiety, depression, and challenges in their relationships. People are motivated to speak with a mental health professional to develop some strategies to maintain an emotionally healthy life style.

Hats off to all of you for trying to be the best version of yourself! It takes courage to talk about your feelings and thoughts and prioritize self-care.

Even though Liberty Village and Yonge & Eglinton are two different locations, I still choose to call them Merging Pathways because the challenges I see people face are all similar in nature with varying intensities and lengths of time.

Check out this article for more information about KMA Therapy:

By: Zainab Adil Gandhi

Zainab has completed her Masters in Psychological Counselling, specializing in Marriage and Family therapies. She is a member in good standing with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA).

Zainab has had 6 years of experience in counselling with Adults, Couples, Parents & Children. She understands that for clients to speak to a complete stranger about their concerns is very challenging. Therefore, her approach to counselling and therapy is client centered. She works with empathy, genuineness, and unconditional positive regard to make sure that the client is extremely comfortable and in a very happy space. It is important to her to establish a good rapport to be able to bring about a healthy change in her clients. She believes in the ‘Human Potential’ that each client brings with him/her. Zainab chooses to be a facilitator in the process, where she guides the clients with her education and experience.  Once she has made the client comfortable in the session, she then moves ahead to use a Cognitive, Behavioral or an Emotional orientation, depending on what the client is willing to receive at that point in time.

Zainab has experience working with issues such as depression, anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem, bullying, parenting challenges, marital concerns, divorce, building healthy communication, relationships, balancing work and life, and dealing with a death of a loved one. She loves to use a variety of visual aids with her clients, which will help them understand their concerns more effectively. Her ultimate goal is to make sure the clients can be independent and cope with their problems efficiently.


What is High-Functioning Depression?

hidden-depression-FIHow well do you know your friends, co-workers or even family? It may seem that you know a lot about them, but they may be hiding a part of themselves from you. What you may see on the surface is a happy marriage, a great job, and lots of friends. But what you won’t see is the unhappiness, lack of energy, and constant self-doubt, which are all symptoms of high-functioning depression.

Depression can be devastating and debilitating for anyone. It affects nearly 350 million people worldwide, and you probably know someone who lives with depression. People tend to be more familiar with major depressive disorder (MDD), as the symptoms are more visible. Symptoms of MDD can be physical and mental, such as exhaustion, irritability, appetite changes, loss of interest or motivation, and a sense of overwhelming hopelessness, just to name a few. These symptoms are often present in high-functioning depression as well, but to a lesser degree. It can be hard for someone with high-functioning depression to identify their symptoms as depression because they often mask their symptoms and so it doesn’t match the stereotypical picture of depression. Some signs to look for include: being an overachiever, constant self-criticism, feeling like you’re wasting time, and substance abuse.

The exact cause of high-functioning depression isn’t known. However, as with MDD, it may involve more than one cause, such as biological differences, brain chemistry, inherited traits and life events. One of the most difficult aspects of high-functioning depression is people’s ability to blend into society and the lack of understanding that goes with it. Examples of celebrities with high-functioning depression include Kristen Bell, Dwayne Johnston, Lady Gaga, and J.K. Rowling.

Here are a few additional things to know:
1. People cannot understand the complexity of the symptoms unless they’ve lived through it
2. Everyday activities feel impossible
3. Illness doesn’t have to be seen to be real
4. Checking in on the person is appreciated
5. It goes deeper than life’s circumstances
6. Outside appearances don’t always match what is going on in the inside
7. The tiniest gesture can go a long way
8. Those with high-functioning depression are more likely to commit suicide than those whose depression is more visible
9. Treatment does work and varies for everyone

By: Anita Levesque
Anita is a mental health advocate with lived experience through loved ones; father – bipolar; brother – PTSD, depression, anxiety; mother – PTSD; boyfriend – clinical depression, severe OCD, GAD, personality disorders. Her goal is to focus on personal experiences with mental illness.

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Tips on how to Help a Loved one with a Dual Diagnosis


drugabuse_istock-57702162-young-woman-upset-with-therapistOn September 12, 2016, I went to listen to former NHL player Clint Malarchuk speak for the World Suicide Prevention Day. He touched on how he would mix his medication with drinking and how it affected his mental illness, himself, his family and his suicidal thoughts.

I do know, from personal experience, how important it is to NOT mix alcohol and drugs or certain medications when you live with a mental illness. My father had a severe back injury, when I was one, and eventually became addicted to the pain medication. His addiction only heightened his manic depression episodes and suicidal tendencies. Further, my boyfriend started drinking and using drugs at a young age due to his panic and anxiety attacks. He found that alcohol and drugs were the easiest way to control and hide his mental illness and live his life. His first suicidal attempt was a result of being put on the wrong medication and almost overdosing on a mixture of street drugs, alcohol, and prescription medications. Years later, he attempted suicide again by overdosing on prescription drugs because he felt trapped and alone. All his life he`s lived with severe OCD, clinical depression and GAD. Here he is, in 2016, clean and sober for over 10 years, on the right medication and has a great support system.

A lot of people who live with mental illness tend to become addicted to either alcohol or drugs because it`s how they suppress and numb the mental illness and how they`re feeling. They may not know what resources and support are out there for them. They may be afraid and ashamed to ask for help.

The best way to help someone is to accept what you can and cannot do. You cannot force someone to stay clean, nor can you make someone take their medication or keep appointments. What you can do is make positive choices for yourself, encourage your loved one to get help, and offer your support while making sure you don’t lose yourself in the process. Below are some tips on how to support a loved one with a dual diagnosis.

1. Seek support. Dealing with a loved one’s dual diagnosis of mental illness and substance abuse can be painful and isolating. Make sure you’re getting the emotional support you need to cope. Talk to someone you trust about what you’re going through. It can also help to get your own therapy or join a support group.

2. Set boundaries. Be realistic about the amount of care you’re able to provide without feeling overwhelmed and resentful. Set limits on disruptive behaviours and stick to them. Letting them take over your life isn’t healthy for you or your loved one.

3. Educate yourself. Learn all you can about your loved one’s mental health problem, as well as substance abuse treatment and recovery. The more you understand what your loved one is going through, the better able you’ll be to support recovery.

4. Be patient. Recovering from a dual diagnosis doesn’t happen overnight. Recovery is an ongoing process that can take months or years, and relapse is common. Ongoing support for both you and your loved one is crucial as you work toward recovery.

By: Anita Levesque

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