Local champions for mental health and hope were honoured at a special ceremony in Belleville Thursday evening.
At the Maurice Rollins Centre for Hope, the Canadian Mental Health Association Hastings Prince Edward Branch recognized 13 individuals and agencies for their continued efforts in helping the community’s most vulnerable.
“This is about honouring people who sometimes don’t get the recognition they deserve for the work that they do,” said CMHA-HPE executive director Sandie Sidsworth. “This is about celebrating people who are taking care of the most vulnerable in our community with the least resources.”
This year’s recipients are: Hastings-Quinte Paramedic Services; Belleville Police Services; Lisa Kemp; Luke Hendry; Nicole Kleinsteuber; Julie Sweeny; Steve Forbes; Anne-Marie Murphy; Janet Howson; Dafoe-Sweet family; Mary Woodman and Dee Leroy.
The Belleville police and paramedics were honoured for their dedication to assisting those suffering from mental illness along with the residents recently displaced from the Bel-Marine retirement residence.
Deputy Police Chief Mike Callaghan pointed to how recent data shows that currently 43% of all policing calls are directly related to mental health issues.
“As we know a lot of services that deal with mental health only have daytime hours,” said Callaghan. “It’s imperative that our members have the compassion, sympathy and training to deal with people who are reaching out for support. To ensure we do that we need to do a better job and we are doing continual education.”
Sidsworth also announced the Suicide Bereavement program received $39,000 from the Parrott Foundation, allowing the CMHA-HPE to continue to offer services for another 18 months.
“It means we have funds dedicated for one on one support for 15 hours,” explained Sidsworth. “It’s an amazing opportunity to really consolidate and support.”
The CMHA-HPE has been offering clinics on Saturday for nearly a year.
“The demand has outweighed the capacity,” Sidsworth expressed. “Now I’m looking to hire another grief support that helps with complicated grief to help folks through that transition period.”
The funding will also go towards the ‘New Me’ group. It’s a pilot group that teaches friends and family members of a loved one how to build ‘a tool kit’ and carry the burden forward in a way that allows them to return to work, stop hyper vigilance around siblings or other family members that remain.
“We are so honoured the Parrott foundation saw fit that this is something that they believed in and would support us,” beamed Sidsworth.