About CMHA

Founded in 1918, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is a national charity that helps maintain and improve mental health for all Canadians. As the nation-wide leader and champion for mental health, CMHA promotes the mental health of all and supports the resilience and recovery of people experiencing mental illness.

In BC, mental health, substance use and addictive behaviour are within the scope of the organization.

Through our family of over 100 local, provincial and national locations across Canada, CMHA provides a wide range of innovative services and supports tailored to and in partnership with our communities. Mental health begins where you live, learn, work and play. Together, we are making a difference.

About CMHA

Our Vision: “Mentally healthy people in a healthy society”

Our Mission:

As the nation-wide leader and champion for mental health, CMHA facilitates access to the resources people require to maintain and improve mental health and community integration, build resilience, and support recovery from mental illness.

Branch Mandate:

The Canadian Mental Health Association (Vernon & District Branch) is a voluntary association that exists to promote Mental Wellness in the community of Vernon, and surrounding areas in the North Okanagan.  It is part of a provincial and national organization.  We believe in enabling individuals, groups, and communities to increase  control over and to enhance their mental health.

We are committed to providing an environment that is free from prejudice, discrimination and harassment. We strive to reflect the entire community in our volunteers and staff, and promote equal access to the services we provide.

Our Philosophy:

CMHA VERNON is committed to ensuring that our mission and operations embrace the whole community, and actively encourage the entire community to participate in and benefit fully from our services.

CMHA Vernon adheres to the Freedom or Information and Protection of Privacy Act under BC Law:  www:bclaws.ca/Recon/document/ID/freeside/961654_0 

Our Agenda for BC:

  • Mental health has the same priority as all other matters in public policy and in the allocation of resources
  • There is no longer any discrimination and societal stigma attached to any form of mental health problem or illness or to those who live with a mental illness
  • CMHA’s Framework for Support is the accepted guiding model in the formulation of public policy and the provision of care
  • Communities encourage and support the creation of environments where nurturing of healthy minds and attitudes is an accepted, ongoing priority
  • Support and assistance is provided in an appropriate, dignified and timely manner to all those who are experiencing mental illness
  • Families and caregivers receive effective support in their important role in the provision of assistance

The Framework for Support

The Framework is the central philosophy guiding the activities of CMHA. This philosophy holds that the person experiencing mental illness is at the centre of any supportive mental health system.

The Community Resource Base outlines a range of possible resources in addition to the formal mental health system which can provide support to a person with mental illness. Housing, income, work and education represent four basic elements of citizenship.

The ultimate goal of the Framework is to ensure that people with serious mental health problems live fulfilling lives in the community. The Framework for Support is referred to as the most comprehensive model for mental health planning by federal and provincial governments as well as by the Centre for Community Change in the US, and the Government of Ireland.


Annual Reports

Each year, CMHA VERNON produces an annual report that outlines the year’s events, activities, achievements and challenges, as well as the outlook for the future. These reports are a great way to learn more about us and how we are making a difference.  We hope that you enjoy reading our Annual Reports.

Disclosure Statement

To view our Canada Revenue Agency T3010 return, please click here.


Charitable Registration No. 10686-3731-RR0001.

Board of Directors

Richard Finn (President)

Richard is an active member of the community in both business and the Not-for-Profit arena. He currently sits on three boards, lending his expertise in fundraising and marketing. Richard’s business provides marketing services in print, signage, large format, and responsive marketing services.

Richard’s connection with Mental Health is a personal one, and he has a genuine desire to see CMHA Vernon grow the level of services and roll out new programs of support.

Tom Christensen (Vice President)

Tom is a lawyer at Nixon Wenger LLP. He graduated from the University of Victoria with a Law degree in 1994 and was called to the B.C. Bar in May 1995. Born and raised in Vernon, he has been involved in numerous community organizations, having held such positions as President of the Downtown Vernon Association, President of the Literacy and Youth Initiatives Society of North Okanagan and Director of the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation. He is a former director and Chair of the Legal Services Society of B.C. and currently the Chair of Community Living British Columbia.

Tom was elected MLA for Okanagan-Vernon in 20013 and re-elected in 2005. While in government, Tom served as Minister of Education, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, and Minister of Children and Family Development. As MLA, Tom became aware of the scope and importance of the work done at CMHA-Vernon and jumped at the opportunity to join the Board in 2014.

James Schneider (Treasurer)

James is a CPA, CA and a partner with Agar Schneider & Lett CPAs in Vernon, BC and is a graduate of BCIT and Royal Roads University. He was born and raised in the Okanagan and has also lived in Victoria, BC. James has been active in communities and on boards where he’s lived and has volunteered extensively as a minor sports coach. He comes from a large pioneer Okanagan family and has a large family of his own. He has a personal interest in many aspects of mental health awareness and is especially connected to BPD, anxiety, depression, and teen mental health issues and treatments.

Twylla Genest (Secretary)

Twylla attended the University of Calgary Faculty of Education and commenced her career as an educator in Northern Saskatchewan and Alberta. As a career change in 1980, she became a Private Investigator working out of Vancouver. Returning to education in 1984, she was employed with School District #45 (Coquitlam) as a Work Experience Facilitator developing employment skills programs and teacher manuals for high school students. She served as Chair and Director on several Boards and committees. In 2001 she relocated to Vernon, where she serves as Manager of NexusBC Volunteer Services for Vernon and District.

Jodi Cunningham (Director)

Jodi is a pharmacist and the owner of a local pharmacy. She has served on various pharmacy professional practice and peers committees and has taken an active role in precepting pharmacy students throughout her career. Jodi has been involved with the Women’s Executive Network Peer Mentoring Program and served as a Director of Fundraising for a not-for-profit start-up.

Jodi believes that communities thrive when they are engaged in supporting individuals’ physical and mental wellness. As a health care professional, she is uniquely aware of the importance of access to mental health supports and resources. Jodi has always had a professional interest in mental health and substance use disorder, so she was eager to become involved with CMHA as a Board member. Jodi believes it is crucial to create public dialogue that encourages individuals to join the conversation and recognize the importance of mental wellness as a key component of our general health. Jodi sees the role of CMHA as integral in raising awareness and creating access to programs and services that promote mental wellbeing and support healthy individuals and communities.

Scott DeLong (Director)

Scott works as a Quality Services Analyst for Community Living BC. He is currently studying for his Masters in Social Work at UBC Okanagan with a focus on community development and affordable housing. In the past, he has worked as a Public Trustee for adults with mental illness and has eight years of experience working with people with developmental disabilities.

Through his experience of being a board member, he has garnered an appreciation for the many programs and initiatives at CMHA Vernon. He has learned a great deal about how boards provide direction for non-profit organizations and volunteers’ vast impact on this organization.

Scott brings a Social Work perspective to the Board, applying his learning from the MSW program to the decision-making processes of CMHA, and looks forward to growing his role as a Director.

Tom Nolan (Director)

Tom is the Pharmacist-owner of three community pharmacies, specializing in palliative care and supportive housing projects.  Previous board experience: Pharmasave drugstores, downtown Vernon association.  Born, raised and working in the same community, with in-depth experience in the strengths and weaknesses of its Health care network.

Dave MacKenzie (Director)

Dave is a school counsellor in School District #22- Vernon and is the current president of the B.C. School Counsellors Association. He is also a member of the Steering Committee of the B.C. School Centered Mental Health Coalition, an active group dedicated to building school connectedness as a protective factor for children and youth. Dave is one of the founding members of the provincial Child and Youth Mental Health Substance Use Collaborative, a project dedicated to increasing timely access to integrated services and supports for children, youth and families struggling with mental health and substance use issues. He is a passionate advocate and speaker for increasing attention to mental health and wellness in schools.

David Penner (Director)

David manages real estate and construction for Kal Tire and is a graduate of the University of British Columbia with an engineering degree. He was born and raised in northern BC and has lived in the Okanagan with his family since 2010. David is active in the community and volunteers extensively with youth sports. He has a personal interest in many aspects of mental health awareness and is especially interested in bringing his property and construction perspectives to benefit CMHA.

David Service (Director)

Prior to his retirement in 2014, David served as a Director of Investment Consulting in the Toronto office of Towers Watson. He worked for the firm for 37 years, spending the first 16 years as a liability actuary and the remainder of his career as a full-time investment consultant.

David was a frequent speaker at industry conferences, particularly on the management of financial risk for pension plans and endowments and has written regularly for a variety of industry publications.

Since retirement, David has served as a Trustee for the Long-Term Disability Trust of a major Canadian corporation. He has also served as a special advisor to the senior management of an Edinburgh-based investment fund manager. He serves in a similar advisory capacity to a Vancouver-based investment fund manager.

David is a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries and holds a Bachelor of Mathematics (honours) degree from the University of Waterloo.

Do you need to chat?Our Crisis Chat service is available now

Picking up the phone can be challenging and uncomfortable and we get that. We encourage you to use our online Crisis Chat. Crisis Chat is available from 5pm – 9pm Thursday through Sunday. You can access Crisis Chat here.

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