As people, we can all struggle with our mental health at some point. Whether it’s stress, neglecting our self-care, dealing with trauma from a loss, illness and addiction, or thoughts of suicide – none of us are immune. We need more mental health literacy in our communities in order to reduce the stigma that surrounds mental illness. No one should have to suffer in silence. With compassionate care and a supportive community, people can be supported to live their best lives.
1. What is involved in your role?
I am the Coordinator for our Mental Health Promotion and Education Services Team for Waterloo Region. My role involves community trainings, providing workplace/community presentations relating to mental health & addictions, suicide, trauma, managing stress, communication and boundary setting, work life balance and self-care, and attending health fairs and displays. I am also a trainer for the Mental Health Works, ASIST, safeTALK, Mental Health First Aid, Compassion Fatigue and Trauma Informed Support workshops and certificate trainings we offer at CMHA. I am passionate about suicide prevention and reducing the stigma of suicide loss so those affected can reach out and receive support. I am an active member of the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council and Suicide Action Wilmot Wellesley (SAWW).
Another part of my role is running an 8 week Family Education Series in both KW and Cambridge, in partnership with Grand River Hospital and Cambridge Memorial Hospital. Twice a year, in spring and fall, we run a group for family members and close friends supporting a loved one with a mental illness.
2. Why did you become involved in the mental health field?
I knew from the age of 15 I wanted to work with and support people in some capacity. I attended the University of Waterloo and graduated with a BA in Social Development Studies and a Diploma in Social Work. My two student placements with a counselling agency and in youth probation confirmed that I had made the right decision! I worked in the young offender system for 10 years, and then with an EAP provider for 10 years providing counselling to youth and families and managing 75 of the corporate accounts. It was during this time that I developed my passion for mental health awareness and speaking to people about their own mental health and wellness.
3. What brought you to CMHA?
I was really wanting to do some community based work, and a friend forwarded me an employment opportunity with CMHA and the rest is history! I have been with CMHA for 13 years. The first 3 years I worked with folks living in the community with complex mental health struggles, and then I moved over to the education team.
4. Have you always worked in mental health?
I have always worked with people. As people, we can all struggle with our mental health at some point. Whether it’s stress, neglecting our self-care, dealing with trauma from a loss, illness and addiction, or thoughts of suicide – none of us are immune.
5. How do you support people at CMHA in your role?
While I no longer provide direct support to people who are living with a mental illness, I like to think of myself as a strong advocate and stigma-buster! In my education role, I speak with family members, community partners and other workplace employees to provide accurate information and promote good mental health.
6. What are you proud of during your time at CMHA?
I am proud to be a voice for those who may not be able to speak up about their own mental health struggles or thoughts of suicide, by provide training to those who work in a supportive role. We need more mental health literacy in our communities in order to reduce the stigma that surrounds mental illness. No one should have to suffer in silence. With compassionate care and a supportive community, people can be supported to live their best lives.
If you are in crisis or wish to discuss whether CMHA has the right service for you, call Here 24/7: 1-844-437-3247 (HERE 247).
Follow the ‘Faces of CMHA’ series for a glimpse into the lives of the people who spend each day at the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington working to inspire and support people to achieve the quality of life they desire. Join our team, click here to view current employment opportunities at CMHA WW.