Community Mental Health Support Services

Our Services

Community Mental Health Support Services (CMHSS) strives to support adults, and their families, who are living with mental illness. 

Our mission is to assist people to achieve their goals, to feel as well as possible, and to live in a community setting of their choice.  Our dedicated team offers highly individualized support through person-centred planning and through direct assistance. 

To receive services and supports from any of the CMHSS programs people can be referred by self, friends and family members, physicians or other agencies and community partnersTo access any of these services please call 807-467-5255 for more information about the process, or email  

Funding for most CMHSS initiatives has been provided by the Ontario Health North (OHN), and by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. CMHSS offers four programs: 

Intensive Case Management offers support for adults living with mental illness.

Housing Subsidy Program facilitates subsidies for people who are assisted through Ontario Works or who are assisted through Ontario Disability Support Program.

The Community Wellness Project offers opportunities for adults to participate in community activities.

Dual Diagnosis Services offers support for adults living with a developmental disability and a mental illness. 

Intensive Case Management

The priority population for intensive case management services is people aged 18 and over, who have a serious mental illness.  Participation is voluntary.  Once a person has been accepted into the program, the individual meets with a Community Consultant to jointly develop a support plan that assists persons to realize their personal goals. 

Support services are flexible, based in the community, and tailored to the expressed needs of the individuals we serve.  Levels of support vary greatly from person to person.  Our services are available 7 days a week.  Daily hours can vary based on individual needs, crises, or emergent situations. 

Intensive Case Management Services offers a wide range of support options to people, in an effort to assist people in any foreseeable way.  We assist people in finding and maintaining affordable housing.  Community Consultants assist people to manage their finances, which includes budgeting and personal banking strategies, in addition to accessing available funding.  We offer assistance in time management skills to support people with making and keeping appointments, being on time for work or for social obligations, and with providing reminders for maintaining a medication schedule, as prescribed by a physician.  We assist people in managing their illnesses, learning about their medications, eating nutritiously, and overall wellness. We assist people using public transportation to explore available opportunities within the community, in finding and securing competitive and/or meaningful employment, which may include skill-building, resumé development, and interview strategies.  We encourage people to pursue their interests and to engage in recreational activities.  And we strongly advocate on behalf of the people we support. 

Funding for Intensive Case Management Services has been provided by Ontario Health North (OHN). 

History of ICM 

ICM had a historical name change as the funding and service model changed in 1990-91. Prior to that ICM was called the LifeSkills and Mental Health Group Living Programs.  The LifeSkills program started in 1977/78 as a satellite program of Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital in Thunder Bay called Homes for Special Care.  This satellite program had licensed the top floor of the Birchwood Terrace Nursing Home to house 37 individuals that had been in Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital. KACL’s LifeSkills program was paid per diem for each person that attended a day program.  Around 1988, KACL proposed moving people out of the nursing home into group living.  We were successful in that proposal and got funding to open 3 group homes. We moved out 11 people in that first year then more gradually by setting up apartments and supporting people in a similar way to the ICM mobile staff model we have today. 

Guiding Principles that drive our work: 

In ICM, we don’t give up on people and we encourage them to pursue their goals and dreams, whatever they may be. 

We support people wherever they are at and from a variety of different backgrounds and circumstances.
We respect the decisions people make, even if they are not what we feel is best for them and work with them to understand their choices and to recognize their gifts.

Ministry of Health Housing Subsidies

CHMSS received funding in 2006 for the first 8 subsidies, later we received the 8 Problematic Substance Abuse (PSU) subsidies and partnership with LWDH for support staff. We currently have 20 subsidies managed through the program. 

The Housing Subsidies program typifies the philosophy that all people have the right to choose the community and the residence in which they live. We understand that having a home is a key aspect of recovery for persons living with mental health issues and we strive to assist people in exercising their rights and their options. Unfortunately, the cost of rent and utilities too often exceeds the shelter allowance provided by Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program.  Rent subsidies offer some financial assistance to bridge the gap between market rent and what an individual can afford to pay. 

The Housing Subsidies program’s staff understand that receiving housing subsidies can be daunting.  Part of their duties involve helping people navigate their way through the process, which includes advocacy work in Kenora’s rental market.  To be eligible for a housing subsidy, a person must have a serious mental illness or problematic substance use issues, receive funding from Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Program and have a rental agreement that exceeds his/her shelter allowance.  Once an application is completed the Housing Support Worker meets with the landlord, develops an agreement and co-ordinates rent subsidies for persons living in Kenora.  These subsidies have provided and will continue to provide many people with opportunities to live in a place within a community of their choice. 

The Housing Subsidies program adheres to ministry guided criteria to assist people who qualify for subsidies.  An adult who satisfies one or more of the following criteria may qualify for assistance: a person who has a serious mental illness and is appropriately supported by community-based services; a person receiving case management services who is at risk of being charged or who has been charged with an offence that is considered low risk; and a person who has a problematic issue with substance use and can be supported by community-based services. 

Guiding Principles that drive our work:  

Approaching individuals with a housing first mindset and a recognition of the importance of housing in beginning a recovery to wellness for individuals living with mental illnesses, substance issues, or involvement with justice. 

Dual Diagnosis

Community Mental Health Support Services (CMHSS) provides Dual Diagnosis services to adults and their families in the community of Kenora and to the Kenora/Rainy River District.  Dual Diagnosis was funded in 2007.  A dual diagnosis refers to the co-existence of a developmental disability and a mental illness. 

Dual Diagnosis services include: access to specialists via videoconferencing and in-person consultation; support for families and first-line employees; advocacy for individuals and their families to receive needed services; psychological education for individuals, families, caregivers, and service providers; development of strategies to effectively support individuals in the community; and support for accessing resources to improve quality of life. 

If your are interested in learning more about this program or would like to request supports please email –  

Guiding Principles that drive our work: 

Helping others feel valued and supported by encouraging day to day structure and goal setting. 

Person-centered planning that is the least restrictive and least intrusive for an individual; access to services as close to home as possible, with coordinated and effective linkages to community partners. 

Community Wellness Project

The Community Wellness Project began in response to some of the barriers facing people who would like to take part in recreational activities. It provides opportunities for persons with a physical or developmental disability, seniors in a low-income bracket, and adults with mental health issues to become more active, healthy, and involved in their community, through participation in organized recreational activities.  Activities include walking and hiking in small groups, bowling, weight training and cardiovascular exercise at the local recreation centre, gentle water fit classes, yoga, baseball, skating, self-defense classes, in addition to social gatherings, like barbecues and dances.  Barriers have been reduced by covering the cost of activity fees, providing bus passes to assist with transportation, and purchasing necessary clothing, like running shoes or swimsuits.  

Group leaders manage their networks of support through ongoing communication with team members to encourage participation. 

 A healthy diet is an important part of an individual’s well-being.  However, some major barriers to eating nutritiously include not being able to afford fresh fruits and vegetables, and inexperience preparing healthy meals.  To further promote healthy lifestyles, the Community Wellness Project introduced the Healthy Living Food Box to address these barriers.  After participating in the Community Wellness Project for one month, participants are eligible to receive a bag of fruits and vegetables each month. 

The Community Wellness Project offers cooking classes to assist participants with cooking healthy meals with fresh ingredients.  Providing participants with fresh ingredients and with culinary strategies has far exceeded our goal of overcoming barriers; participants take pride in the dishes they prepare, which is evident by their exchanging recipes, sharing meals, and enjoying good company outside of class. 

Land Acknowledgement

The Board and Employees of KACL gratefully acknowledge that we live, work, enjoy the richness of and play on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe people of Treaty 3, and on the homeland of the Metis. We pay our respect to the First Nations and Metis ancestors of this place and reaffirm that the historic and current relationship that exists between us is defined by Treaty.

We commit to work to create the conditions for belonging and social justice so that each person can live fully in the unique identity that matters to them, in a community that accepts and welcomes. We recognize that our work must be in the service of Reconciliation. Our work must be at the level of the individual and the community, so that our collective identity as a community lives up to the values we want for ourselves and our children. A community where equity, peace, and respect for cultural differences are respected and nourished; and a community that acknowledges that the early Anishinaabe people of these lands saw we were strangers, welcomed us as guests, and invited us to stay as neighbours.