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2005 CMHA National Award Winners

The National Awards program recognizes the outstanding efforts of CMHA volunteers and staff members in communities throughout Canada who exemplify the spirit of the Association. CMHA salutes the award winners for their efforts to make a difference in mental health in Canada. In 2005, the recipients of awards were as follows:

C.M. Hincks Award

Moyra Buchan

Moyra Buchan was Executive Director for CMHA Newfoundland and Labrador Division and has advocated for those with serious mental illness for over 15 years. Her commitment and passion about mental health, and her impact in raising the profile of mental health issues in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, has resulted in mental health reform becoming part of that government’s agenda.

Moyra Buchan assisted in the establishment of the first consumer organization in Newfoundland and has provided regular media commentary on issues concerning people with serious mental illness. She implemented the “Helping Skills Program” which is a community based self-help approach that assists communities in dealing with local concerns. She authored “Valuing Mental Health” which is a provincial policy framework paper contracted by the Department of Health and Community Services based on consultation with stakeholders throughout the province.

Ms. Buchan is responsible for creating the proposal which lead to the funding of the CMHA’s “Changing Minds” program – a unique program that helps people better understand the experience of mental illness. She is also the Founding Chair of the Community Alliance for Better Solutions – a province-wide alliance involving over 100 groups and organizations. And, she coordinated the formation of Coalition for Mental Health Partners, and developed “Speaking for Ourselves,” an advocacy project for consumers and parents.

Consumer Involvement Award

Robert Gauthier (Consumer)

Robert Gauthier promotes and advocates for improved supports for people with mental illness and has worked tirelessly to break down the stigma associated with mental illness through the presentations he delivers to diverse audiences.

Robert participated in two important public education campaigns. The first changed community attitudes about mental health and mental illness, and the second helped high school students become less stigmatized and demonstrated an increased understanding of mental illness.

He facilitated several workshops at various mental health conferences and co-facilitated a 12-week Wellness Recovery Action Plan course with CMHA Sudbury Branch staff for local consumers.

He has helped promote important issues confronting the mental health field by giving testimonials in support of the recovery philosophy before hospital administrators. And for the past four years, Robert has been a Warm Line telephone support worker offering pre-crisis telephone support to consumers and survivors.

Dr. Carolyn Bennett (Non-Consumer)

Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Minister of State for Public Health, has been a force at the national political level ensuring that issues around mental health and mental illness are present in the discussion of the promotion of health in Canada.

Throughout her political career she has chaired several committees and sub-committees which have included mental health consumers and their family members, as important contributors. She passionately believes that consumers have an important role to play in shaping national health policy.

A good example of this passion is Minister Bennett’s support of Lembi Buchanan, a devoted family member of a consumer who rallied for changes to the disability tax credit to include issues for those Canadians with psychiatric disabilities.

Media Award

Chatelaine Magazine

Over the years Chatelaine Magazine has helped to promote mental health, educate its readers, and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. Three recent articles from Chatelaine demonstrated the magazine’s positive and factual portrayal of mental health issues and creative and technical excellence. Chatelaine’s continued commitment to mental health is evident within each new issue that reaches Canadian women.

A feature article raised awareness about depression and provided advice to people coping with it. It alleviated some of the guilt and confusion that loved ones and people with depression may be experiencing. A second feature was a personal account of a woman coping with anorexia nervosa. It demonstrated that with support and treatment, women battling this disease can live a healthy and happy life. And the third feature uncovered treatment options for people with depression. It translated complicated information into practical and reader-friendly information by helping to sort out fact from fiction when it comes to treatments and advice about antidepressants.

Edward J. Pennington Innovation Award

Cap Reit Management

Cap Reit Management recently provided a newly renovated space within one of their apartment buildings to CMHA Toronto’s Psychosocial Rehabilitation Program. The program provides case management services to people in a Toronto suburb, who have serious mental illness and require support to live and work successfully in the community.

The space that Cap Reit provided is being used as a place where people with serious mental illness, who are often isolated, have the opportunity to engage in social recreation activities and improve socialization skills.

Over the years, Cap Reit Management has rented numerous safe and affordable apartments across the GTA to the CMHA through CMHA Toronto’s Homelessness Initiative Program. Their commitment to supporting the programs that help individuals with mental illness is an exceptional display of how commercial industry can successfully help to build up not only their community, but also the individuals within that community without forgoing their own business needs.

Cap Reit Management has supported the learning process for its staff and has lead the way in developing a better understanding of various mental health issues that arise within a residential environment. Cap Reit has always respected the privacy and the confidentiality that the CMHA requires and as a result has helped many individuals who have a mental illness to comfortably re-integrate into their community.

Mental Health in the Workplace Award

Fleet Service Department, City of Calgary

The Fleet Services Department stands well above the crowd in its contribution to increasing awareness, reducing stigma and improving the quality of workplace mental health, not only within its own organization but in the city of Calgary, the province of Alberta and across the country.

In early 2004, the Fleet Services Department, decided to place a strong focus on mental health. They contracted with CMHA Calgary Region to present a special 2-hour workshop from the The Copernicus Project: Risk Management for Workplace Mental Health, to their entire department as well as the entire management team.

From Spring 2004 to Spring 2005, the Fleet Services Department dedicated close to 1000 staff hours to mental health training, not to mention committing significant dollars to cover the costs of program delivery. And their work is ongoing.

In July of 2005, CMHA-Calgary Region facilitated a half-day focus group for managers from several organizations, who, having gone through the initial Copernicus Project programming, were then looking for new ways to address the issues. Fleet Services sent two of their senior managers to participate and share their experience. Fleet’s commitment to the issues inspired participants from other organizations to redouble their efforts to build on the work they have already done in mental health promotion and education.

Marjorie Hiscott Keyes Award

Bluma Goldberg

As an Occupational Therapist, Bluma Goldberg has spent her career working in the mental health field.  Bluma came to CMHA Edmonton Region as a Program Manager after working in a position at University of Alberta Hospital. After eight years with the CMHA, Ms. Goldberg is semi retired, but she still teaches at the Occupational Therapy department at the University of Alberta.

Recently she has also undertaken a part time appointment with Prosper Place clubhouse bringing with her extensive community experience and dynamic professional skills.

Bluma has always focused on enhancing the lives, self-esteem and independence of those she works with. Her clients appreciate her amenable manner and her creative but sensitive approach to problem solving. Her compassion for the consumers she serves is ever present in the work she does each day.

CMHA Staff Award

Debbie Wiebe (Alberta)

Debbie Wiebe is the founder and manager of the Peer Options Program for the CMHA Calgary Region. This program accomplishes the fundamental task of increasing independence, community involvement and wellness to a high degree. Within the program, consumers can become volunteer trainers, supporters and recreation mates for new members of Peer Options, working with new participants who are learning to manage their metnal health while working towards independent living. The program was designed to provide a pro-active problem-solving approach, combined with a strong support network, to help consumers remain healthy.

To address the difficulty of isolation for consumers, Ms. Wiebe conceived the Art of Friendship groups to practice giving and receiving social support. Key principles of unconditional acceptance and confidentiality are taught and upheld in everyday activities. Over 200 people have successfully completed the Art of Friendship and participation in the program has quadrupled over the first three years of operation.

The reputation of Peer Options under Ms. Wiebe’s leadership is one that ensures quality continuity of care for people being discharged from acute and rehabilitative services. Recently, Debbie successfully applied for additional funding to hire consumer-volunteers to enhance staffing.

Wendy Kent (New Brunswick)

Wendy Kent has worked for over 10 years for the CMHA Fredericton Region, giving presentations to the public, government and employers. She has spoken on mental health, employing persons with a mental illness and about the Let’s Work employment program. Wendy Kent initiated a program to recognize employers who have made a significant contribution by hiring individuals with a mental illness and by spreading the success of their efforts to colleagues.

She assisted the CMHA National Office by mentoring new employment projects and collaborated on the initial application of the Routes To Work project. Wendy provided valuable input in the production of several publications including Hangin’ In There, Making It Work, Steps to Employment and Routes to Real Work.

National Distinguished Service Award

Betty Friesen

Betty Friesen was recruited by the Alberta Division to implement a fundraising project in Camrose, Ponoka and Wetaskiwin areas. This was a four month, federal, Priority Employment Program. Ms. Friesen was also asked to write up a report which addressed the question of the need for community mental health services in Camrose. She was appalled at the needs that were out there and the corresponding lack of services within the community, as well as the seeming lack of interest on behalf of all levels of government.

Responding to this need in June, 1988, the first program provided by CMHA in Camrose was opened in the form of a group home. Under Ms. Friesen’s leadership, it grew from a group home in Camrose to a variety of services provided throughout all of the East Central Region.

Ms. Friesen espouses the philosophy that the consumer comes first, and believes that we need more community based services to enable individuals with mental health issues to continue to live and thrive in their communities.

Debbie McCormack

Debbie McCormack has been a dedicated volunteer to the many different services provided by the CMHA Saint John Region in New Brunswick.

Debbie McCormack has served on the Board of Directors with the Saint John Branch Inc. for over seven years. Locally she has held various positions such as the Executive Committee, Provincial Board Liaison, Board Development Committee, Programming/education committee and the ad hoc Policies and Procedures Committee. Debbie has been facilitating our eight week Anxiety and Panic Disorder Psycho-education Program three times per year for many, many years. Testimonials from the participants attest to her knowledge base, her commitment and her passion for helping people through their journey.

Freddi Ford Award

Barbara Moffat

Barbara Moffat was the Executive Director of the CMHA Peterborough Branch from 1985-1991. She is the inaugural recipient of the Freddi Ford Award.

After numerous requests from the community, the CMHA Branch Board of Directors gave their approval to Barbara Moffat to start the Branch’s first Survivors of Suicide Support Program. One of the first leaders that she recruited for the program was Freddi Ford, with whom Barbara went on to design an 8-10 week program for direct survivors of suicide, including family members and close friends. The program was modeled on the three programs for survivors of suicide which existed in North America at that time, and is now one of the longest-running survivors’ programs. Over the years, Barbara and Freddi co-led groups in Peterborough and started groups in other Ontario communities.

Ms. Moffat has also been a dedicated volunteer with Telecare Peterborough, a 24/7 crisis line, since first joining the steering committee in 1976. In 1989, she and Freddi Ford took the two-day intensive Suicide Intervention Workshop (now called ASIST) in Ottawa, which was the first time this training was offered in Ontario. Over the years they gave 42 of these workshops and trained over 868 people on how to help a person who is suicidal. In addition, individually and together, Barbara and Freddi gave hundreds of other short talks, half or full day workshops on all aspects of suicide prevention, intervention and postvention.