People First Media program archive


who we are

Vancouver Island Mental Health Society (VIMHS) is a registered charitable non-profit Society first organized by a group of concerned citizens in 1977 with financial support from the Knights of Columbus. VIMHS currently owns and operates five facilities in Nanaimo, B.C., serving approximately 80 adults at any given time.

our mission

VIMHS is a charitable Vancouver Island based organization demonstrating excellence in psychosocial rehabilitation for adults with mental health and addictions concerns, and/or cognitive challenges.  We engage communities through programs that promote recovery, social inclusion, safe housing, and public education.

our vision

VIMHS’s intent is to encourage a society that values and supports all people, including those experiencing psychiatric, addiction, and cognitive challenges through thoughtful, community-driven leadership.  Our resources are dedicated to:

– incorporating contemporary knowledge and best practices in the delivery of mental health and addictions programs, and

– fostering dialogue among local communities to generate responses to emergent and ongoing social challenges.

our history

40 years ago, the first resident was admitted to Columbia House, now known as Gateway House. Hundreds of people have come and gone over the years. We know that many have recovered and live in our community. Others have not been able to recover to the point where they are able to live independently in the community.

VIMHS ensures they have the opportunity to try.

In the early 1970’s, the White Cross Society noticed patients needed a safe place to go upon their discharge from the hospital. To answer this need, a group of concerned citizens formed the Columbian Centre Society. The Society was incorporated on March 11, 1977.

Dr. Giuseppe Multari was a psychologist at the Nanaimo Mental Health Centre in the early 1970s and became a founding member of Columbian Centre Society in 1977. He was instrumental in securing funding from the Knights of Columbus for Columbia House.

Its stated purpose was, “To provide both a suitable residential environment and a program which would assist people discharged from psychiatric treatment centres to make a successful re-entry into their community”.

Over the years, VIMHS has expanded its services and now offers three programs in five different facilities. Our most recent independent housing initiative is a collaborative effort between Nanaimo Affordable Housing Society and Haven Society and provides housing for 41 adults at risk of homelessness.

As the population of Nanaimo grows, Vancouver Island Mental Health Society will continue to provide much needed services to individuals experiencing mental illness. VIMHS is looking forward to 40 more years of service and achieving its vision to “create a society that values all people”.

our funding

VIMHS  is grateful for the ongoing financial support from the following organizations:

23_vancouver island health authority22_british columbia15_city of nanaimo21_united way