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Faces of CMHA: Heather Glenister, Coordinator Suicide Awareness Council of Wellington Dufferin

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The commitment and compassion of the people who work at CMHA is incredible. I cannot see myself doing anything else, the people that are on the Suicide Awareness Council of Wellington Dufferin and what we are doing is very exciting. There is a lot energy and synergy that happens when people come together for a bigger cause.

1. What is involved in your role?

As the Coordinator, I am the Ambassador for the Council in Guelph, Wellington and Dufferin Counties. The Council is comprised of people who represent various organization and those interested individuals who come together to discuss wellness in the community particularly focused on suicide. I am the one who facilitates the Council’s work. I represent the Council on a variety of committees including Safe Communities Wellington, the H.O.P.E. Committee in Mount Forest and Dufferin Connects. I also do a lot of networking, displays, events, presentations and being open to listening to the shared stories of mental health, love, loss and hope.

2. Why did you become involved with the Suicide Awareness Council Wellington Dufferin?

I volunteered with CMHA many, many years ago and mental health has always been a big part of my life, I have lived experience. I am incredibly passionate about the work that the Council does and I want to see the Council continue to be an active voice in the community when talking about suicide, mental well-being and resiliency.

3. What brought you to CMHA? What do you enjoy about working for the Council?

The commitment and compassion of the people who work at CMHA is incredible. I cannot see myself doing anything else, the people that are on the Council and what we are doing is very exciting. There is a lot energy and synergy that happens when people come together for a bigger cause.

Talking about suicide is still very much taboo and stigmatizing and with the Council we want to break that down and say it is ok to talk about suicide, it is ok if you are struggling, there is help out there, you are never alone.

4. What do you want people to know about the Suicide Awareness Council of Wellington Dufferin?

I want people to know that the Council exists. People are often surprised that the Council has been around since 1999. We have been providing leadership, education and stewardship within our communities for almost 20 years. Everyone, past and present, has brought their expertise and wisdom to the goal of decreasing suicidal behaviour and improving service and supports.

The Council has three pillars:

Prevention/Awareness:

Intervention:

Post-vention:

5. Have you always worked in mental health?

No, I spent 20 years in healthcare philanthropy; I was the Executive Director of the Alexandra Marine Hospital Foundation in Goderich, but it was always my goal, because of my interest in mental health, to become part of a mental health organization. I just figured it would be in a fundraising role.

6. What are you proud of during your time at CMHA?

The thing I am the most proud of is getting people to the Council table and having conversations, building networks and being creative in our thinking. Together, we can share the message that hope and healing is possible.

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.

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