Throughout my years as a mental health consumer, as well as a client and volunteer with ACNBA, I’ve come to a real appreciation for what it takes to stay well, and informed, on topics of mental health, sexual health, and safer drug use. As I have lived in an area previous to being in North Bay, where they did not have an ACNBA office, I had relied heavily on the standard health care system of the area for things such as mental and sexual health, but have truly found out that community focused offices, such as ACNBA, has really improved my life.
Such things as safe drug kits, and knowledge and access to supports regarding Hep and HIV, testing and education should be an integral part of every town, city and population centre. Perhaps I would’ve been less inclined to get tested for hep c or hiv, if I had left the notion and work to standard health care offices, such as a family doctor, or for worries about what it would mean to me, if I had anything untested. Perhaps I would have been using dirty pipes for marijuana, or have left out keeping condoms at home. Perhaps I would’ve lost friends to suspicions of STDs, where truly being educated and tested brought about understanding instead. Details such as Hep being transferred only through blood contact, but not every day contact, has really opened my eyes to sexual safety, and comfort around friends who may have contracted either one. Perhaps I’d be more paranoid within myself about HIV and the how’s and who’s surrounding hep and HIV, without knowing enough to calm my fears. Perhaps I may have contracted something without having had condoms at home.
When it boils down to one’s physical health and practices of reducing STD transmissions, either contracting or sharing, education is the essential point that can build one’s mental health and confidence levels regarding such topics. My confidence levels have gone up, my fears gone down, my drug use safer, and as a volunteer myself here at ACNBA, I’ve a more fulfilling life, where I can see efforts turned to results. So if you’re like me and came from an area that did not have a similar office to ACNBA, please keep in mind the benefits of having our office, as I’ve come to keep so much more practical knowledge, as well as practical supplies, to stay more healthy of mind, body, and lifestyle.
So for myself, I always take time to visit the office, staying both a client and volunteer, keeping up with safety kits, condoms, STD testing, and soon perhaps our attempt to bring clients together in music, as we are currently planning, ACNBA is worthwhile for each of us, and since other areas may not have equivalent services, I remain proud and confident for the staff and resources found here, for my benefit and yours.
Shane G. Ducharme