Personal experiences helping to inform new mental health programs in Vernon, BC – Okanagan

The Vernon, BC branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association is taking an innovative approach to developing new mental health programs.

Instead of relying solely on academic knowledge of the subject, the new courses will also include insights from local people who have lived with mental health issues.

This is an approach taken by many CMHAs across the country.

“We have a lot of volunteers who have a lot of knowledge who come together in an advisory committee to help us put that lived-experience perspective on how we can deliver the courses in a way that is meaningful to the people. people,” said CMHA Wellness Education Coordinator Tami Muhlert.

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In Vernon, the program is called Pathways to Wellness.

Course topics that are currently being developed include healthy lifestyles and how to manage conflict.

Those with personal experience were able to bring new perspectives on daily living with mental health issues to the development of the program.

“One of the things that’s been really interesting is the focus on people’s strengths and resilience and what they’ve done to cope and how they’ve built on that,” Muhlert said.

Barbara Bryant is one of the participants on the advisory board who shares her thoughts on living with diabetes and anxiety and depression in the past.

Bryant notes that when you first receive a diagnosis like diabetes and face dietary restrictions, it can be ‘weird’, but she said she’s since learned advice that she can now pass on. to others.

Bryant brings his practical knowledge to the healthy living program and said it feels good to help others in similar circumstances.

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The hope is that bringing knowledge from those with personal experience will make the courses more relevant.

The program is expected to launch in the new year. Anyone wishing to get involved can contact the Canadian Mental Health Association.

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