Tuesday, February 27, 2024
February 27, 2024

Mental Wellness Initiative invites community participation and donations


It has been quite some time since we of the Mental Wellness Initiative (MWI) last communicated. We have been busy!

The Salt Spring Health Advancement Network’s MWI is continuing to work hard to bring the community together in a good way to strengthen mental wellness for all. Our current focus is on expanding peer support and establishing volunteer counselling in the community. We have also been busy submitting grant applications.

We are happy to report that we have received a CRD grant-in-aid, and a grant from the Salt Spring Foundation. We’re awaiting word from the Vancouver Foundation, and a response for our funding proposal from the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions.

We’ve also been working to deepen our existing partnerships and create new ones as well as moving our working groups forward. 

And this is where you come in.  We are looking for volunteer help. Are you someone with — or do you know someone with:

• Website and other content writing/editing skills?

• PR skills to recruit practitioners for our Volunteer Counselling project or other MWI projects?

• Project management and/or event planning skills?

• Lived experience expertise advocacy/peer support interest and/or skills?

• Interest in becoming a Ganges goodwill ambassador?

The Salt Spring Health Advancement Network (SSHAN) and Salt Spring Community Health Society’s (SSCHS) ongoing partnership continues to focus on community health and wellbeing through the Mental Wellness Initiative. Individuals and organizations who donate $20 or more to the MWI can now be issued a charitable tax receipt through SSCHS. Examples of areas to contribute to:

• Paid coordination hours for our Ambassador Program.

• Added lived experience expertise honorariums.

• Volunteer Counselling project website hosting fees.

• Educational programming.

Together, SSHAN and SSCHS have been strengthening the capacity of community members and individuals who provide frontline support to residents dealing with mental health and addictions issues to broaden mental wellness support in the community. 

There are now 80 Salt Spring residents certified in Mental Health First Aid, with five certified in MHFA for Adults Who Interact with Youth. Last winter, 11 community members took peer support training for rural residents facilitated by Robyn Priest through the Stigma-Free Society. And, most recently, 28 community members learned how to empathize, interact and connect with individuals who are experiencing mental health or substance use challenges in a second workshop facilitated by Robyn Priest. Of those in attendance, almost 45 per cent work in frontline mental health positions.

The MWI continues to include representation from many agencies, lived experience expertise, grass-roots organizations/efforts and other community members in all of its working groups. We feel particularly proud of realizing the commitment of lived experience expertise in all facets of our work. We see great value in all community members’ voices being represented. The creation of a healthy community working well together is the antidote to many mental health challenges.

The MWI vision is one of co-creating a community of caring and belonging. Our missions are fourfold:

• Bringing together Salt Spring Island mental health community providers, users, marginalized and other community members to mobilize cooperatively around issues and needs of/for mental wellness.

• Creating healthy group culture to enable the co-creation of a MW framework and coalition for effective coordination, cooperation, collaboration, responsiveness and adaptation to existing conditions.

• Enabling cohesive and personalized mental wellness services towards healthy and inclusive community.

• Co-creating a community in which everyone belongs (recognizing that each person’s needs are unique and that treating them individually is essential!)

If you’ve taken Mental Health First Aid or Peer Support or similar training and you’re looking to apply your skills in service to others while gaining new skills, we’d like to hear from you.

If you are interested in donating, click here.

If you’re interested in getting involved as a volunteer, please reach out to David Norget at davidnorget@gmail.com or William MacPherson at willieonsaltspring@gmail.com.

Thanks to our many partners and contributors. Together we are better! Thanks also to our past and present funders: Island Health, CRD and the Salt Spring Island Foundation.

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