BY the MENTAL WELLNESS INITIATIVE TEAM
This article is an update on what the Mental Wellness Initiative (MWI), a close partnership of the Salt Spring Health Advancement Network and the Salt Spring Community Health Society, has been up to since hosting six successful summits focused on local wellness supports. It is also an appeal to our community to consider making a donation to the initiative and to get involved.
The Mental Wellness Initiative is endorsed at the provincial level by our MLA, Adam Olsen, who has said, “The Salt Spring Health Advancement Network’s (SSHAN’s) Mental Wellness Initiative is a brilliant, community-led approach to addressing the crucial gaps in the mental health services of Salt Spring Island. Since the Mental Wellness Initiative’s inception I have been kept apprised of their efforts. I extend my whole-hearted support and belief in the approach and efforts on behalf of the whole community. Community fundraising will support the Health Advancement Network’s efforts to obtain grants, and empower my office’s lobbying efforts to secure funding through the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions. Please find it in your hearts to support this very important initiative.”
Last year the MWI welcomed the Salt Spring community together over Zoom to learn and share ideas around community mental wellness. Six summits brought together local service providers, individuals with lived experience expertise, people who are marginalized, and interested community members. Bringing diverse voices together, mobilizing cooperatively around issues of/for mental wellness and co-creating a community of belonging were the goals of the summit project.
What emerged from the summits were three active working groups that have been meeting, planning and creating.
The peer support working group sees Islanders Working Against Violence, Salt Spring Island Community Services, lived experience expertise, professional counselling and the Salt Spring Community Alliance (SSCA) coming together to design peer support outreach work in the community. This working group has also been working with the Chamber of Commerce, SSCA, Salt Spring Community Health Society and RCMP to initiate a Goodwill Ambassador Project, with trained volunteers providing connection and support around Ganges village. You’ll see ambassadors with easily identifiable vests in the village soon.
The working group focused on volunteer counselling has created Reach Out Salt Spring, with a website in development and campaigns for recruiting at least 10 professionals providing 10 free counselling sessions. This working group consists of an adult mental health practitioner, community paramedic, lived experience expertise, firefighting personnel and a nurse in training.
The third working group is the communications group, which has been working to support the peer support and volunteer counselling groups and overall MWI through internal communications and externally through this article and an upcoming brochure.
One goal of the Mental Wellness Initiative is to co-create a community that can be responsible (response-able) around health and wellness; a community that is willing to come together, to include those impacted by the decisions and to invest in healthy relationship building.
We see the work of the MWI, in particular the work of building A Culture of Care, as creating positive ripples in the community and deepening our partnerships and efforts together. We feel proud to continue to have committed engagement from our community and we look forward to more people getting involved.
Volunteers are needed. There are opportunities to volunteer as a Goodwill Ambassador, help with ongoing coordination of the Ambassador program, assist in recruiting volunteer counselling (and other) practitioners, and participate in a working group. If you want to make a difference in your community, please contact David Norget (firstname.lastname@example.org) or William MacPherson (email@example.com) to find out more.
Donate. Please also consider making a donation to the Mental Wellness Initiative. As we await word on funding applications, the MWI is at a vulnerable stage and so we are making a community appeal. Donations from the community will lessen our dependence on grants, provide a secure future for the initiative, and of course, strengthen our grant applications by demonstrating community support.
Now is a great time to donate as your donation will be matched by an “angel funder.” Donors who contribute $20 or more will receive a charitable tax receipt.
If you, or someone you know, wishes to give to the Mental Wellness Initiative, please consider donating in one of these ways:
• Cheque – payable to Salt Spring Community Health Society. Mailing address: 181 Booth Canal Road, Salt Spring Island, B.C., V9K 2N2.
• E-transfer – firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Online – CanadaHelps.org. Search for Salt Spring Community Health Society. Please specify “SSHAN – Mental Wellness Initiative.”
The Mental Wellness Initiative is in service to wellness potential and embodies a community-wide engagement vs. problem-solving approach. Instead of focusing on solving individual problems, we endeavour to recognize these as symptoms and get to the root cause. If you believe in this approach, please join us!
The Mental Wellness Initiative thanks past and present sponsors: the Salt Spring Foundation, CRD Grants-in-Aid and Island Health Community Wellness Grants.