Community Action Initiative

May 09, 2012 16:03 ET

B.C.'s Community Action Initiative Applauds Focus on Collaboration in Canada's National Mental Health Strategy

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - May 9, 2012) - B.C's Community Action Initiative (CAI) is commending the Mental Health Commission of Canada for its leadership in releasing a long awaited national mental health strategy that emphasizes collaboration for better mental health outcomes for Canadians, Barb Keith, co-chair of the CAI, announced today.

"The national strategy re-affirms that mental health needs and challenges are best addressed when ideas and resources from many sectors of society are harnessed towards shared goals," said Mrs. Keith. "British Columbians can take pride in the strong community-based collaboration already underway in CAI-funded projects that respond to mental health and substance use challenges in BC. A growing legacy of engaging stakeholders across professions, agencies, and communities in our province is taking shape. We share the Mental Health Commission's sense of hope for the future; and with implementation of the national plan we would like to see more opportunities for this type of work."

"Since 2010, the CAI has funded solutions across the province to support mental health and address harmful use of substances," Mrs. Keith added. "The initiative supports innovative local partnerships to address mental health and addiction - from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside to Ladysmith to Atlin".

Through an initial grant from the Province of British Columbia, CAI's work helps complement the province's Healthy Minds, Healthy People: A Ten-Year Plan to Address Mental Health and Substance Use in British Columbia, which was released in 2010 and takes a transformative approach to these important health issues.

CAI-funded projects have already made a difference to British Columbians. Examples include:

  • A project led by the Young Parents Support Network of Victoria, uniting the Sooke Family Resource Centre, the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre, Esquimalt First Nation and the City of Victoria to strengthen and enhance protective factors for mental health of young parents and their children.
  • The Canoe Journey - Ways of Knowing project led by the Swan Bay Rediscovery Program and connecting Aboriginal youth in Haida Gwaii, with traditional knowledge as important protective factors for mental health. Working with the community (elders, youth and collaborators including a local school and the RCMP), the initiative started focusing on Aboriginal youth ages 13 to 18.
  • Connected by 25' project led by the Kelowna Branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, helping vulnerable young people between 16 and 25 by building community capacity to meet their needs and building capacity in youth themselves with needed relational, emotional, and material supports including one-to-one support, systems navigation, and life skills.

The CAI has granted nearly $3.8 million to promote collaboration and innovation in the delivery of services to address mental health and substance use challenges since 2010, and has funded work led by over 100 different community-based agencies. In early June, CAI will award an additional $210,000 in convening grants to help community groups work together to address other critical training needs that will continue to make a difference in the lives of children, youth and families, with more grants announced in the fall.

The National Strategy indicates that improving the mental health system goes beyond the health sector. The change we need must happen in many different sectors - the health, housing, education and criminal justice systems - to name a few. The strategy along with BC's Healthy Minds, Healthy People 10 yr plan, supports the work of the CAI in building relationships, strengthening capacity and mobilizing communities to improve the quality of everyday life for people across British Columbia.

About the Community Action Initiative

In 2008, the B.C. government provided the B.C. Alliance for Mental Health/Illness and Addiction with $10 million, enabling the Alliance to establish the CAI. The CAI supports community action to promote mental health, prevent substance use problems and support treatment when problems occur. The CAI funding includes three specific funding streams: convening, service innovation and training. The CAI is governed by a Leadership Council that includes community-based mental health and substance use organizations, professional associations, aboriginal organizations, labour, business and provincial ministries. For more information on the CAI please visit www.communityactioninitiative.ca.

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