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Blankets of love

Those who sleep under a quilt, sleep under a blanket of love.
 Foundation staff Alison (left) and Martha (middle) are joined by quilter Theresa Hurst (right) of the Mayflower Quilting Guild.

Foundation staff Alison (left) and Martha (middle) are joined by quilter Theresa Hurst (right) of the Mayflower Quilting Guild.

As the weather gets colder, nothing brings cozy comfort quite like a homemade quilt. 

Imagine being in the hospital recovering from a mental illness and feeling alone, cold and afraid. Imagine how it would feel to be wrapped in a warm, colourful, homemade gift of love from someone you’ve never met?

Nurse Sheila Ethier founded The Blankets of Love Foundation for Mental Health at the University of Alberta Hospital in 1996 after spending time in a psychiatric hospital. A quilt made by her grandmother provided her with feelings of comfort, love and peace while she was struggling with mental illness. That experience inspired her to create a program that provides quilts to mental health inpatients across the country.

The Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia has been running the Blankets of Love Program in Nova Scotia since 2004. To date, hundreds of adults and children have received quilts. Our avid quilters are members of the Mahone Bay Quilter’s Club, Mayflower Quilters’ Guild and Warm Wishes Quilters. We always look forward to seeing them show up at our office with armloads of love.

"Receiving these quilts and delivering them to mental health patients is a moving experience. I will never forget delivering a Blanket of Love to a young woman named Amy who was in the hospital recovering from an eating disorder," says Starr Dobson, President & CEO of the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia.

Amy's response says it all: 

The comfort I got from that blanket has lasted to this day. During rough times I still curl up with my quilt and think about how much love went into making that blanket. It reminds me that even though times can get rough, there are people out there who care enough to put their time, love, and energy into making these gorgeous quilts for those of us who need a little reminder that we are loved no matter what we are going through!

I hope the people who put love into my blanket know how much love I get out of it.


Supporting a program created by a mental health patient for mental health patients is truly inspiring.  The goal is to ensure every inpatient has access to a quilt of their own.  This project will continue as long as a need exists.

Programs like this remind us little things can mean a lot. 

Together, we not only change the way people think about mental illness, we wrap a virtual blanket of love around those who live with mental illness and their families.