An agreement between Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Vernon & District and the Mental Illness Family Support Centre (MIFSC) is ensuring a full scope of family support services will continue for Vernon and area families.

For nearly 20 years, MIFSC has provided vital supports for families of individuals diagnosed with a mental illness. Earlier this year, the MIFSC Board of Directors and its membership voted to dissolve their organization, with CMHA Vernon agreeing to operate its programs and services for families in Vernon and area.

“Sometimes community organizations are faced with challenging decisions on how to best serve those in need of support,” said Julia Payson, executive director for CMHA Vernon.
“CMHA and MIFSC have been long-time partners in delivering mental health programming in our community,” said Payson. “CMHA is dedicated to ensuring these valuable programs will be sustained with strong potential for growth as we continue to lead the way to enhance mental health and support families.”

All MIFSC programs and services will continue to operate under CMHA, including Kids in Control, Farm Friends, group and educational sessions, and one on one support. The family support office will continue to run its services out of The People Place.

“It is important for families who are experiencing unsettling life changes to know that they will continue to have the same supports in the same familiar environments, with the same staff who have been working with them,” said Payson.

“Family support is about building and growing a community where families affected by mental health have knowledge about mental illness and the mental health system, including timely access to services and support,” said Payson. “Family members are partners in care and we need to instill empowerment to them through support, education and advocacy.”

In February, MIFSC was named the recipient of the Beach Radio Community Airtime Award, which provides a non-profit organization with $35,000 in airtime over a six-month period. With the dissolution of MIFSC, CMHA has been designated as the recipient of the award.

“CMHA is excited and grateful for the opportunity to share our message with the community to help understand mental health, to break down mental health stigma, to take part in educational opportunities, and how to support families and those living with mental health challenges,” said Payson.

“Non-profit groups are some of the hardest working people in the world – and unfortunately most groups don’t have the funding to ‘get the word out’, or to launch a fundraising campaign as almost all funds go to operating costs,” said Bryan Ford, General Sales Manager of the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group Okanagan Division. “They are just like most other businesses… they have goals and aspirations for their organization, and our hope is that the Community Airtime Award will help these organizations take things to the next level”.

The Beach Radio Community Airtime Award is granted semi-annually, where Beach Radio, in partnership with Lake City Casino and Hytec, a Kohler Company, grants a non-profit group or charitable organization with an advertising grant of $35,000, to be used over a 6-month period.

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