A community’s mission on mental health

A Day in the Life

By THERESA WELLS, Connect Weekly

A file photo of members of the Canadian Mental Health Association Wood Buffalo at their annual bake sale. SUPPLIED PHOTO.

A file photo of members of the Canadian Mental Health Association Wood Buffalo at their annual bake sale. SUPPLIED PHOTO.

Since 1984, the Canadian Mental Health Association – Alberta North East Region (CMHA) has been operating in Fort McMurray. The CMHA provides residents of the region with mental health programs and services responsive to local needs.

The vision of the CMHA is to ensure mentally healthy people in a healthy society. The nation-wide mission of the organization is to promote mental health for everyone and support individuals experiencing mental illness.

With a mandate to educate the community on mental health issues and how to keep a mentally healthy mind, the goal of the CMHA is to provide services to all areas of the region to meet this mandate.

The Wood Buffalo CMHA has had some impressive achievements, including the provision of the FRIENDS Program, which builds resiliency skills, increases mental health literacy and provides awareness of anxiety prevention strategies for children, parents and educators.

The CMHA also provides Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (a two-day course designed to help caregivers recognize suicide risk and learn how to prevent immediate risk of suicide), the provision of Mental Health and High School curriculum materials, transitional housing for individuals diagnosed with persistent and chronic mental illness (through partnership with Alberta Health Services, Assertive Outreach Services and Wood Buffalo Housing), as well as several more initiatives designed to educate and promote mental health awareness.

The CMHA continues to look to expand their programming and services, including new support groups for those with mental health disorders and a friends and family support group for those with loved ones who live with a mental disorder. Along with new programs like The Fourth R – Healthy Relationships Plus Program, a prevention program designed to build skills and reduce harm among adolescents and My Friends Youth Skills for Life, which was created to develop psychological resilience and reduce the risk of anxiety disorders in youth, these initiatives are being developed and explored in order to further the goal of ensuring mentally healthy people in a healthy society.

The CMHA Wood Buffalo hosts a variety of annual fundraising events, such as their Charity Jam and Silent Auction, Taking Off the Blindfold Golf Tournament and Online Auction for Mental Health, among other yearly events.

The organization also participates in many community events as an opportunity to connect with the residents of the region to ensure community members are aware of the programs and services provided by the CMHA.

Striving towards the goal of mental health for all, the Canadian Mental Health Association Wood Buffalo is active, engaged and involved in the community, and ensuring the residents of the Wood Buffalo region have access to programs and services to ensure lifelong good mental health.

– Connect Weekly –