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2016 CMHA National Award Winners

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 national conference, Mental Health For All, in Toronto. While the third award, The C.M. Hincks Award, which is given to a recipient outside of CMHA for excellence in supportive workplaces, was presented this past April.

The C.M. Hincks Award honours the spirit and social commitment of the founder of CMHA, Clarence Meredith Hincks. This top award is provided annually to an outstanding organization that has advanced mental health through their work/volunteer activities in the areas of reducing stigma and discrimination, addressing social justice and the social determinants of health, and maintaining or improving mental health for all.

The CMHA Workforce Mental Health Collaborative presented the 2016 C.M. Hincks Award to the University of British Columbia (UBC). UBC recognizes the importance of workplace mental health. Their initiatives aim to increase mental health literacy, decrease stigma, and support respectful environments for everyone on campus.

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 values:  to embrace the voice and promote the inclusion of people with mental health issues.

The 2016 Consumer Involvement Award winner is Mark Gruchy.Mark is a young lawyer with lived experience of mental illness who was the recipient of the 2015 CMHA-NL Dr. Clarence Pottle Award for his service as a mental health volunteer.  He has served as President of CMHA-NL Division for six years.

Mark’s advocacy role as President of CMHA-NL dealt with the major issues of concern to CMHA as a national organization and how local Divisions can discharge their responsibility.

Mark serves as Co-Chair of the newly formed Community Coalition for Mental Health (CC4MH, the Coalition), which is a broadly-based group of citizens bringing together 200 members including 30 community organizations, which previously had worked independently, to serve the needs of people with mental illness.

Mark has been an inspirational spokesman for mental health issues in the province.  He has been instrumental in building the Coalition into a strong organization which can effectively represent the interests of people with lived experience of mental illness. In so doing he has built strong bridges connecting community organizations, including CMHA-NL.

In congruence with CMHA Values of embracing the voice of people with mental health issues, Mark’s work has focused on hearing the voices of people through large and small groups which allow the voices of people with lived experience to be heard.

The second award presented is the Strengthening CMHA Award. Choosing this year’s recipient was not easy for the Awards Selection Committee, and in fact, the committee chose two recipients.

This award recognizes inspirational leadership, innovation and excellence within CMHA in support of our collective goals and core functions as outlined in our nationwide strategic plan. It also honours the long and rich history of our organization and the collaborative efforts of all CMHA locations across the country to achieve our shared vision: mentally healthy people in a healthy 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 our nationwide strategic plan.

The first recipient of the Strengthening CMHA Award winner is Ruth Smith, Executive Director, CMHA Swift Current Branch, Saskatchewan.

Ruth assumed the position of Executive Director at a time when the organization was experiencing challenges. She inspired confidence through her dedication to member welfare and by supporting and honouring the dedication of staff, and the Board of Directors.  Ruth has been the Executive Director for the past nine years.  CMHA Swift Current offers service to 43 members in a small urban and large rural setting in southwest Saskatchewan.

Ruth is a key member of a group comprised of leaders of organizations that provide services to individuals in their community. Ruth provides leadership with respect to community engagement. She speaks regularly to service clubs, churches and other community organizations.

CMHA Swift Current’s Clubhouse model has been a key structural component of member activities for the past few years.   Clubhouse members have an executive that holds member meetings and solicits ideas about how the Centre can better meet members’ needs.’

Ruth’s effort and passion is evident throughout the community, her commitment in support of mental health is obvious to her staff, volunteers and their community.

The second recipient of the Strengthening CMHA Award is Marion Cooper.  Marion has over 25 years of experience in the field of mental health and community service delivery. She has an extensive history of working in and with community based non-profit organizations, regional health authorities, school divisions and government departments. She came to CMHA Winnipeg/Manitoba as Executive Director several years ago at a time of great fluctuation with the amalgamation of the Winnipeg Branch and the Manitoba Division.  Her leadership shone through and she was very helpful to staff and members during this unsettled time.

In Manitoba, there are many different groups provincially and locally that work for better mental health. Ms. Cooper has been instrumental in building capacity by meeting with and strengthening each of these groups. Ms. Cooper serves on the CMHA National Provincial Executive Team (NPET) providing input and supporting excellence within CMHA. Her positive interactions have proven that she is an effective leader working among these various organizations as she invigorates all who work with her.

In a few short years of Ms. Cooper’s leadership, the voice of CMHA has become a clarion call for change and effective activities for persons living with a mental health diagnoses.

For more information about CMHA’s annual Awards program, please contact us at [email protected].