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Faces of CMHA: Family Council, Holly Sabara


The CMHA WW Family Council is comprised of family members and/or caregivers of an individual who has or is accessing CMHA WW services. The role of the council is to enhance family engagement and improve the quality of care at CMHA WW. Family Council members  represent family perspectives about loved ones’ experiences and their own experiences at CMHA WW, this unique perspective helps to provide valuable input on/recommendations for improving or enhancing CMHA service, programs, initiatives, policies, and processes. Through the Family Council’s efforts we are working to strengthen communication and collaboration between CMHA WW clients, families and staff.

Holly Sabara is one of our dedicated Family Council Members.

1) Why did you become involved in Family Council?

I became involved in Family Council to have a voice for the families of those under the care of CMHA services. My eldest son has received support and treatment from CMHA for approximately 9 years, and over that time, there have been many instances when the role of the family has been instrumental in driving treatment decisions and outcomes. I strongly believe that the role of the family in supporting mental health clients in their journey should not be underestimated. When an opportunity arose to be part of CMHA’s Family Council, I jumped at the chance to give back to CMHA and help support other families any way possible.

2) Why do you think it is important for CMHA WW to have a Family Council?

A family council provides a voice to those who support the client receiving mental health treatment. So much focus is put on client-focused care, however often the care of an individual with mental health challenges is a shared responsibility with the entire family, broadly defined. Family has lots of knowledge, expertise and input to bring to the table to improve CMHA services, support and care for their clients.

3) What advice would you share with someone supporting a loved one with a mental health concern?

My advice would be, do not go it alone. Supporting a loved one with mental health challenges can be an isolating experience, however there are family supports available to assist you along the way. You may feel like you are the only one navigating the mental health labyrinth and no one else could possibly understand what you are going through; however, that is just not true. There are other family members around that can provide empathy, support and hope to your journey. You can find out more about family support groups, by clicking here. CMHA WW offers Family Education Sessions, click here for more information and Adult Family Education services, click here to learn more.

4) What do you want the public to know about mental health?

I want the public to know that help and support is available for those living with mental health challenges. Despite the darkness that surrounds long wait lists, dead-end services, endless interactions with police and EMS, or countless emergency room visits, I believe our society values those with mental health challenges and together we can support those who need us. We can all work together to make their mental health journey a little less painful, one day at a time. You just have to want to make things better.

5) What makes you proud about being involved in family council?

I am proud to be a voice for my son, an advocate for better services, a support for families, and a cheerleader for those who work tirelessly to clinically support those with mental health challenges. Family council provides a forum for those with lived experience to come forward and be an instrument for change. Together we are stronger.

Do you want to learn more about CMHA’s Family Council, email:

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.


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