Eleanor Diekert and Julia Payson of CMHA Vernon

Mental Health Matters

In the photo: Eleanor Diekert and Julia Payson of CMHA Vernon.

Community Foundation North Okanagan Supports Canadian Mental Health Association Suicide Prevention and Education Programs

“Working together just makes sense,” according to Leanne Hammond, executive director of the Community Foundation of the North Okanagan. (CFNO) “We recognize that mental health challenges cut across all income levels, all ages, and all demographics. Here at the community foundation we are especially pleased when local organizations work together to take on issues that impact our whole community.”  As the demand for mental health services grows, innovative and interconnected ways to take on increasingly complex challenges promise the highest likelihood of success.

With the application deadline for the Community Foundation’s annual Smart & Caring Community Grants Program looming (March 30th), the group wants to remind donors that mental health is a year-round issue. “Bell’s Let’s Talk initiative has done an incredible job of getting important conversations started, and shining a light on mental health as a critical component of personal health; now we want to encourage our donors to keep both the conversations and the support going throughout the year,” explains community foundation volunteer grants committee chair, Brad Marsh. 

“We gave out close to $400,000 in December to local groups from our donor advised and donor designated endowment funds. Next month we will start looking at applications to our annual community grants program. Another $150,000+ will go out to a variety of programs in a variety of areas.” According to Marsh, applications run the gamut from Arts and Culture, to Social Services, Health, Recreation, and Environmental projects. There are so many important groups doing critical work in our communities.

A recent grant to CMHA Vernon & District has been utilized to focus on youth:

  • North Okanagan communities are facing an urgent challenge surrounding youth mental health, suicide and substance use.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 24 year olds in BC after motor vehicle accidents.
  • CMHA Vernon & District partners with many dedicated local organizations that work together to help youth in our communities.  Support from CFNO maximizes our ability to help the urgent mental health needs of North Okanagan youth.
  • We know that education is an important factor in early intervention and prevention.  With support from CFNO and other contributors, CMHA has hired a full-time Community Educator that will double our current community education services and suicide prevention course offerings that CMHA provides.
  • With support from CFNO, CMHA Vernon & District is planning four Community Forums featuring resource fairs in Armstrong, Lumby and Vernon. 
  • Rural youth face additional challenges such as higher incidences of at-risk behavior and lack of access to resources.
  • The forums are a community-led relationship-and resource-building project that include youth leadership recruitment and training, Indigenous leadership and training, and the development and provision of much-needed resources for parents and caregivers.

In partnership with other leaders in mental health, CMHA is also increasing its workplace mental health education opportunities to include custom workplace workshops, lunch and learns, suicide prevention, and more Mental Health First Aid workshops to assist employers and staff members with strategies for dealing with employee mental health.

The expansion of mental health community education including early intervention and prevention programs helps change the lives of individuals by offering greater access to proven successful evidence-based courses that build individuals’ capacity to manage their mental wellness.

About Community Foundation of the North Okanagan

Founded in 1975, CFNO provides funding to organizations doing important work in our region. We connect donors who care with causes that matter. As a registered charitable public foundation, the CFNO provides donors a range of flexible giving options tailored to the donor’s wishes and interests. Visit www.cfno.org for more information or call 250-542-8655 to find out how you can help.

About Canadian Mental Health Association, Vernon & District

Founded in 1959, CMHA Vernon & District has been saving and changing lives while improving mental health in our community.  CMHA provides programs and services for individuals and families of all ages across the spectrum of mental health with approximately 600 people monthly receiving support, education and rehabilitation. To learn more about the Canadian Mental Health Association Vernon Branch or to make a donation to improve mental health in our community, visit the website www.vernon.cmha.bc.ca or call 250-542-3114.

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