Mental health project underway in rural and remote Alberta

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A new mental health project that will see rural and remote communities develop action plans for improvements is underway in Alberta.

The Canadian Mental Health Association, Alberta Division (CMHA AB), with $1.6 million in funding assistance from Alberta Health, is leading the Rural Mental Health Project with up to 150 rural and remote communities across the province.

The project has two key elements.

“The first is really around animator training and funding,” says Jessica Turowski, project manager. “So what we do is we look for a connection with a local community-based organization to help us find a local community member who we call an animator.”

The animator receives training, funding, and compensation, to bring people together to discuss what a mentally healthy community means to them, what their community is doing well, and how to build on those strengths, says Turowski.

The second element is the development of a rural mental health network to help connect those animators, and coalitions across the province.

The discussions will focus on strengths, and give ownership back to the communities.

The organization has thus far worked with 39 communities.

Turowski says it’s the conversation around mental health is ongoing, and this initiative is one to help move that conversation forward.

Hear Jessica Turowski discuss her role with the Rural Mental Health Project, learnings from the pilot, the role of ‘animators’, and what will be different for 2020:

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