The Canadian Mental Health Association – Vernon & District Branch held its Annual General Meeting last night at the CMHA Vernon Branch Conference Room.
Richard Finn, Matt Garcia and Tom Nolan were re-elected to the Board, while Robert Carscadden, Jay Hack and David Service were newly elected.
Members continuing their terms include Tom Christensen, Scott DeLong, Twylla Genest, Dave MacKenzie and Tanya Wick.
Retiring members past president Robert Scott and long-time director Cliff Cross were thanked for their dedication to promoting mental health and wellness in our community over the years.
Highlights from the past year include a record-breaking Ride Don’t Hide community bike ride event raising more than $60,000, taking part in the province’s first Poverty Reduction Strategy by facilitating Kitchen Table Poverty Dialogues, hosting a Community Forum Panel Discussion on youth and addictions, raising more than $250,000 from social enterprise programs, housing more than 220 Vernon residents in affordable units, serving more than 6,000 meals for nutritional programs, more than 1,200 residents taking part in educational programs and volunteers providing more than 20,000 hours of their time to CMHA programs.
“We have done a lot, but still have many challenges ahead,” said Julia Payson, Executive Director.
“Each year, one in five Canadians will experience a mental health issue. By age 40, half of us will have or have had a mental health issue. We need to talk about mild to moderate mental health issues so that early intervention and prevention can take place,” she said.
“Mental health is on a continuum; it fluctuates for all of us. It doesn’t mean you are either at zero with no issues or 100 with severe issues.”
CMHA’s Workplace Wellness workshops explore the mental health continuum, provide education to break down stigma and work towards solutions.
“This past year we had the opportunity to provide educational workshops to School District CUPE members, City of Vernon employees and employees of several local businesses,” said Payson.
“Depression happens. We can’t keep it in the shadows. When someone is on leave due to a physical injury or ailment, co-workers send cards, flowers and call to ask how the person is doing,” she said.
“What happens when someone is in the hospital or off work with depression or another type of mental health challenge? We explore those hard questions and work towards solutions within the workplace.”
CMHA will be expanding its Workplace Wellness education programs and hosting more youth community dialogues in Armstrong, Lumby and Vernon to address our province’s disturbing opioid crisis and youth suicide rates.
CMHA will also continue to push for parity in the health care system so mental health care funding is equitable to physical health care funding.
“We have a lot of work to do in building a community that allows us to be open and supportive of mental health,” said Payson.
CMHA Vernon & District Board of Directors 2018-2019
Richard Finn, President
Matt Garcia, Treasurer
Twylla Genest, Secretary