This year, three awards were presented as part of CMHA’s national awards program. Two internal awards, the Strengthening CMHA Award and the Consumer Involvement Award – were both presented at CMHA’s nation-wide Symposium in St. John’s (Oct 28 – 30). The third award, the C.M. Hincks Award, which is given to a recipient outside of CMHA for their efforts is workplace mental health, was presented this past April to NAV Canada.
The Consumer Involvement Award honours a consumer/person with lived experience who best exemplifies self-determination and a strong sense of advocacy, and who has made an outstanding contribution to the involvement of consumers/persons with lived experience within CMHA and in society in general. The award honours past, present and future consumer leaders and recognizes the CMHA value of embracing the voice and promoting the inclusion of people with mental health issues.
Michael Schratter, from British Columbia, is this year’s recipient of the Consumer Involvement Award. Michael, a Vancouver school teacher and newspaper columnist, embarked on a solo global journey to cycle 40,000 kms crossing 6 continents and 33 countries to bring awareness to and raise money for mental health. The campaign called Ride Don’t Hide, was the culmination of a sixteen-year dream to fight against mental illness discrimination and stigma.
In the past five years of Ride Don’t Hide, Michael has attracted thousands of Facebook and Twitter followers, exchanged over 14,000 text and email messages, written a bi-weekly column on mental health issues in Vancouver’s 24H newspaper, and is a published writer for Vancouver Sun Online, UBC Trek and local newspapers. Michael has also been a guest speaker on CTV, Global TV and CBC in BC.
Ride Don’t Hide has now become a fully collaborative national CMHA awareness and fundraising event.
People like Michael have strengthened the national voice of persons with lived experience within CMHA and throughout society.
The Strengthening CMHA Award is presented to a CMHA Division or Branch or to a staff member or volunteer who has provided inspirational leadership, innovation and excellence within CMHA related to the collective goals and core functions of CMHA’s national strategic plan. This award honours the long and rich history of CMHA and the collaborative efforts of all CMHA locations across the country to achieve its shared vision: mentally healthy people in a healthy society.
This year’s recipient is Christa Baldwin Executive Director, CMHA NB Division. Since joining the team of CMHA of NB, Christa has had a pivotal role in the incredible transformation and success of CMHA in that province. In addition to enhancing mental health services in New Brunswick and building capacity, Christa has overseen the amalgamation of that province’s Branches. She has worked to better meet the needs of its regional communities and strengthen CMHA in the province – which strengthens CMHA as-a-whole across the country.
Previously, a province separated into regionally independent-working agencies, CMHA NB has flourished, functioning as a cohesive team, with a unified and strong voice.
Christa has also embraced CMHA’s new nationwide social media strategy and since launched their own successful social media strategy engaging more members of the community and, generally, have reached a much wider audience than ever before.
Through Christa’s vision, the ‘Changing Minds’ program – an innovative program that helps reduce stigma and encourage a better understanding of mental illness – has grown into a well-attended workshop that supports their education and advocacy mission.