Historically, people with mental health problems have lacked a voice.

Up until the 1970s, neither they nor families were involved in decision-making on mental health services, and they continued to be at risk of social exclusion and discrimination in all facets of life.

In 1971 that all changed with the incorporation of the Motivation, Power and Achievement Society (MPA), originally the Vancouver Mental Patients’ Association.

This agency has given an increasingly loud voice to self-advocates. MPA advocacy is about taking action to help people say what they want, secure their rights, represent their interests and access services.

MPA wants to reduce the harm and stigma associated with having a mental illness.

The Society believes recovery is achievable through support, empowerment, autonomy, and responsibility. It works to support people with serious and persistent mental illness through offering a variety of supports and services, including housing and advocacy.

While membership is not a requirement for participation and acceptance in programs, all program participants that meet eligibility requirements for membership are encouraged to become Members. There is no cost for membership.

Individuals wishing to become members must be able to demonstrate, that at some time, they have received psychiatric treatment and are over the age of nineteen. They may be asked to provide a contact that can verify that they are eligible for membership of the MPA Society.

Tara Kimberley Torme, a member of the Human Resources team at Community Living BC, said, “So many people are not even aware of all the services out there for people with various disabilities. I never knew that the MPA existed until I was trying to get my PWD and they reject[ed] me. When I was at Gastown Vocational Services, it was suggested to me to go there and I did which was the best thing for me. They really do great work and they help with a variety of services. They do help to advocate for others as well and they are really good at what they do.”

The MPA now offers a range of services including, but not limited to: Supported Housing, Hotel Outreach, Supported Independent Living, and Advocacy & Social Justice, which covers the MPA Resource Centre, MPA Advocacy, and MPA Court Services.

The Advocacy services also include: Health and social benefits, Persons With Disabilities applications, Canada Pension, Disability Tax Credit, completion of simple Tax Returns, reconsiderations/appeals, residential tenancy disputes, informal landlord mediation, therapeutic rights and education workshops.

To contact the Motivation, Power and Achievement Society, call toll free: 1-877-536-4327, direct to (604) 482.3700, email at info@mpa-society.org or go to their website at http://www.mpa-society.org/