Canada’s Premiers Announce Recipients of the Award for Innovation in Mental Health and Addictions Care

Supporting Wellbeing – Northwest Territories
Supporting Wellbeing (SWB) is a training program being developed by an Indigenous mental health expert with the aim of providing tools for land-based program providers. Led by a Steering Committee of on the land (OTL) leaders, the program will better prepare OTL providers to mitigate and respond to mental health challenges in remote environments. Given the prevalence of trauma experienced because of colonization, it is not uncommon for participants (and staff) to experience mental health challenges while on the land. During training, OTL leaders will learn about topics related to the planning and delivery of trauma informed OTL programs, including intergenerational trauma, suicide intervention, conflict resolution, and participant aftercare. After completing the training, OTL leaders will be better equipped to support people in distress, mitigate risks, and decrease burnout. This, in turn, will improve participants’ ability to safely engage in and benefit from OTL programs. SWB will strengthen OTL programs across the NWT, increase the emotional intelligence of community members, enhance community capacity for mutual support, and further the resurgence of Indigenous cultures, languages, and ways of being.

Strongest Families Institute, SFI Companion App – Nova Scotia
Strongest Families Institute, based in Lower Sackville, is an award-winning charity whose focus on innovation and research has led to pioneering a new way of delivering mental health programs that reduces waitlists and makes care more accessible. Strongest Families Institute provides bilingual evidence-based mental health services to children, youth, adults, and families using telephone coaching coupled with online or printed support materials. Their Companion App was developed to integrate with their e-mental health platform and enables clients to benefit from access to their online educational platforms even while working offline, helping to bridge the digital divide.

Mary Ugyuk – Nunavut
Mary Ugyuk has been employed as Wellness Coordinator for Hamlet of Taloyoak since 2010. Initially mentoring youth and pre-natal health groups, Mary has worked to expand existing programs and to create new ones that benefit her community, including: Adult Drop In (a safe and sober meeting place seven evenings a week), Elder’s Cabin, mobility scooters, a soup kitchen, an Elder and youth center, a summer on-the-land culture camp, an annual shoreline and community clean-up, a community volunteer annual Christmas dinner, “The Turkey Has Landed” Christmas frozen turkey and food voucher program, Lily Love and Elder Love programs, weekly Elder’s tea and weekly Elder’s Culture Day, Elder’s driver program, and Elder’s radio show. Mary has been instrumental in creating and driving community wellness programs from a local perspective, rather than a territorial or regional focus, with the unique onsite ability to adapt if adjustments are needed to ensure effective and functional program delivery.

The Path Home – LOFT (Leap of Faith Together) Community Service – Ontario
LOFT (Leap of Faith Together) Community Services’ “The Path Home” is a supportive housing model specializing in transitioning patients with complex needs back to their community. Piloted, tested, and expanded across the populations and geographies served by LOFT, this model is guided by two goals: addressing unmet needs and system gaps through working collaboratively with health system partners, and providing exceptional and specialized need-driven care that enables people to stay safely in the community. This innovative model of care is designed to support individuals facing complex mental health challenges, addiction, dementia, and responsive behaviours along with physical health and care needs who no longer need to be in the hospital, but continue to require ongoing care. The Path Home provides an opportunity for vulnerable individuals to live with dignity and is successful in reducing the number of Alternate Level of Care (ALC) rates in hospital. 

Peer Support Program, Canadian Mental Health Association, PEI Division – Prince Edward Island
The Peer Support Program, operated by CMHA PEI, assists individuals experiencing mental health and addictions issues by providing a trained mentor with lived experience and recovery history to lend support, guidance and inspire hope for others experiencing similar situations. This program currently employs peer support specialists who host peer support groups and one-on-one sessions, and accompany clients to appointments. The peer support specialists empathize with the struggle and emotional pain that may accompany mental illness and share their thoughts and insight on the path to recovery. They provide support to clients via advocacy, housing resources, suicide prevention, coping strategies, support groups and help to bridge the gap between the client and the available mental health services on PEI. The overall benefit to Islanders and Canadians is evident. While there are similar programs elsewhere in Canada, the success of the Peer Support Program on PEI serves as an example model for other provinces and territories.

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