The CIF Crisis Fund: A Drop of Help, A Splash of Hope

Spotlight On Mental Health


 Knowing that the Crisis Fund can provide not only a drop of much-needed practical support during hard times but also a splash of a more intangible type of emotional support makes my job even more rewarding.

The CIF Crisis Fund: A Drop of Help, A Splash of Hope

 Seema Shah, Project Manager, Consumer Initiative Fund Crisis Fund

“The CIF Crisis Fund, which I hadn’t known about before my new psychiatrist advised me, offered a bit of practical support during a particularly rough patch in my life. I was in mental health crisis, had no income and was facing daily survival decisions such as whether to buy food or medication. Beyond the immediate financial help, this is what the Fund meant to me: During a time of much personal loss, challenge and uncertainty, with everything that could possibly go wrong seeming to go wrong, it was something that ‘went right.’ During that especially difficult time, it helped me feel heard, encouraged and not so alone. Somebody ‘got’ my situation and responded quickly, as they were able. It was a small but meaningful moment in my ongoing recovery journey.”

     –Crisis Fund recipient, 2011

The CIF Crisis Fund is a peer-led bursary program that assists mental health consumers who are in dire financial need due to an unexpected expense or loss. Eligible individuals must be referred by a health care worker* and may receive a grant of up to $75. As funding is limited, a person can receive a maximum of one grant every 12 months. The Crisis Fund is meant to help out when no other funding sources are available.

For a variety of complex reasons, mental health consumers often live in chronic poverty or experience extended periods of significant financial strain. In these situations, any unexpected cost or loss can make one unable to afford basic necessities and cause a great deal of stress; this can put both one’s physical and mental health at risk. The Crisis Fund aims to offer some support during these especially difficult times. Some may think of $75 as a drop in the bucket, but sometimes a drop can be enough to make a difference.

Having the opportunity to be involved with such a worthwhile program has played a significant role in my own recovery journey. Not only has it allowed me to work again, but I’ve been able to do a job in which (I believe) both my lived experience as a peer and my background in public health and preventive medicine add a valuable dimension.

Living on a limited income has given me a firsthand understanding of the impact of additional financial stress when one is not able to afford it. I’ve been in the position of needing financial help and I know it’s not a position anyone wants or chooses to be in.

More details about the Crisis Fund, including eligibility criteria and referral process, can be found on the CIF website at If you would like more information or would like to make a referral, I can be reached at 604-736-2033 (ext. 2239); all referrals are done over the phone.

* For the Crisis Fund, ‘health care worker’ is defined as anyone who provides mental health-related services to referred applicants in a professional capacity.