By Ryan Dahlman
Alta. Newspaper Group
The Canadian Mental Health Association’s mantra is “Mental health for all”. In this time of socio-economic turmoil, there is a lot of pressure on families and workplaces and mental health is suffering. The provincial office’s job is to ensure all reaches of the province gets the assistance they need to help others.
Kolbi Kukurba, Project & Public Relations Manager Canadian Mental Health Association, Alberta Division says there are many programs that CMHA facilitates and a lot of what they do is provide support for those regional offices, much along the lines of facilitation, advocacy work and proving that general ’toolkit” on mental health importance.
“The best way is to have a strategic plan and we look at opportunity is based on a business focus in order grow for Alberta mental health issues prevention: we want to support people and ensuring resilient communities on a provincial scope. It is all about strengthening Alberta. There is a social movement growing and it is garnering government support… so what we do at head office is to lead. (The local offices) find issues that need addressing. Then it comes to be of a combination of not parachuting in and taking over but doing a recommendation of various plans.”
Kukurba points to the growing need of mental health awareness and programs outside of the major urban centres. Many smaller communities and those living in the country have different issues than those in Calgary or Edmonton hence the development of the Rural Mental Health Project.
Caregiver Connections: Family Peer Support; Healthy Campus Alberta and Peer Support for First Responders are but to name a few of the provincial initiatives. Much like the Rural Mental Health Project; while there are all major initiatives from head office, the local offices and branches handle the more fine intricacies of each of these project to best suit the particular area. What may work or is pertinent in the Crowsnest Pass, may not work in Brooks or Medicine Hat.
The CMHA’s head office is in Edmonton but there are eight zones with Southern Alberta covered by the South Region (Lethbridge area); South East (Medicine Hat, Brooks) and Calgary.
“It is kind of like. Federation but we are all independently run: our board of directors for each but we are all quite independent, we all fly at different altitudes,” explains Kukurba, adding that the main office provides the blueprint of the programs, it is up to the local offices to execute each strategy.
She say other general types of mental health needs are a little more general. For example the caregiver program there will always be a consistent need to have caregivers in society so CMHA gets repeated requests for more assistance to assist those who look after those in medical or mental health distress or need. There are other areas as well.
“Workplace mental health is more of an issue and more and more of a priority in those areas. It is kind of niche now,“ explained Kukurba. “CMHA)’s major way of getting funding is government contracts, provincial donations as well as donors in the community. We provide mental health training with a lot in the workplace… for specific events, we have sponsorship dollars. In most corporate partnership. They have a mental health issue, we build a donation and base an a relationship based on what is needed.
CMHA Alberta does a lot less fundraisers than the regional offices. In some cases they do more work and corporate training such as Lethbridge, whereas Medicine Hat will get. Lot of help comes through with the Snowflake Soiree held in the winter months in Medicine Hat. In Lethbridge, they lean on workplace training contracts.
They don’t lobby governments for funding per se. Kukurba says they talk to government officials on a need-to basis. There are so many ministries they deal with such seniors, family services and educations.
CMHA Alberta works with Alberta Health Services and when there are phone calls they can connect clients with the provincial 2-1-1 number so as to get directed to the appropriate mental health service needed.