Supporting mental health and wellbeing

Across Alberta, local offices of the Canadian Mental Health Association have been offering Recovery College – a series of peer-provided classes, supported by trained facilitators, which help people build skill and knowledge that supports their mental health and wellbeing.

Addressing a range of topics, from stress management and self-care to forming healthy relationships, setting boundaries and practicing gratitude, Recovery College can be accessed either in person at a CMHA office or online.

Having classes delivered by people who have real stories and experiences of their own is an important part of the success of Recovery College for people who are working on their own mental health journey or supporting a loved one in their process.

In Camrose, the local CMHA office is going one step further, and creating a Welcome Centre program to ensure those participating in Recovery College also have a place to gather informally, without a referral, for a coffee and a chat.

According to Colleen Swanson, the Executive Director of the CMHA, East Central Region, the Welcome Centre will help connect people with others and provide opportunities to share resources and experiences in an informal setting.

Ms. Swanson is very grateful to have the support of the Battle River Community Foundation in getting this new Centre started, just as she is grateful for all the ways in which her programs have benefitted from the Foundation’s support over many years.

“We’ve had support from the Foundation for outreach programs, Art Therapy, and much more,” Ms. Swanson explains. “It’s been a substantial benefit to us over the years, not only because of the funding itself, but because that funding has allowed us to demonstrate to other granting organizations that we are supported by our community. The Foundation’s funding often gives us the “seed” that we need to start a program or apply for additional funding from other sources. We’re always grateful.”

Especially right now, in this fledgling post-pandemic era, when there are so many funding challenges and a narrow criteria for acceptance to AHS-provided mental health services, coupled with higher needs than ever, community-based support is vital.

“There is a lot to cope with right now. Everyone is in need of support,” Ms. Swanson explains. “For people who have been on a mental health journey, the last two years have been incredibly challenging. For many people, the anxiety, depression or isolation they were already feeling have been heightened. At the same time, particularly in rural areas, mental health services and funding have become less accessible.”

“We continue to do whatever we can and we appreciate the Foundation’s support in making it happen.

Recipient Story — CMHA (Welcome Centre)
Recipient Story — CMHA (Recovery College Space)