Unique con­fer­ence will help those who help oth­ers with men­tal health chal­lenges

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Alberta - BY RYAN DAHLMAN — rdahlman@prairiepos­t.com

Men­tal health is­sues are more prom­i­nent with the pub­lic than they were only a few years ago.

So­cio/eco­nomic sta­tus, bi­o­log­i­cal fac­tors, chem­i­cal de­pen­den­cies, com­pli­cated re­la­tion­ship is­sues and many other fac­tors are com­ing into play. Whereas in the past many men­tal is­sues were stig­ma­tized, ig­nored, glossed over or overtreate­d with drugs, to­day di­ag­no­sis and ther­apy is be­com­ing far more the sta­tus quo.

Pro­fes­sion­als who work with those who have men­tal health chal­lenges have a unique con­fer­ence to at­tend in Brooks Nov. 12-14.

The Ru­ral Men­tal Con­fer­ence the motto for which is "Unique Chal­lenges, Unique So­lu­tions" will take place at the Medicine Hat Col­lege's Brooks Cam­pus. start­ing noon Nov. 12 in or­der for many of the outof-town men­tal health-re­lated pro­fes­sion­als time to get to Brooks.

Roberta Rogers, Con­fer­ence Chair, says the idea for the con­fer­ence came af­ter dis­cus­sion be­ing ini­ti­ated af­ter an un­spec­i­fied "cri­sis in Brooks." Af­ter talk­ing with col­leagues, peers and gen­eral mem­bers of the pub­lic, the idea for a con­fer­ence which was tar­geted for men­tal health pro­fes­sion­als or for those who need to have a high level of ex­per­tise in men­tal health di­ag­no­sis.

"Wor­ried about the im­pact (men­tal health is­sues) was hav­ing on our com­mu­nity and our youth" ex­plains Rogers. "At­tempts to get get help or ad­vice amongst pro­fes­sion­als, what do they do. I reached out...I got a pos­i­tive re­sponse."

Rogers is semi-re­tired, but still does some work with the Stu­dent De­vel­op­ment Depart­ment, Medicine Hat Col­legeBrooks Cam­pus.

Rogers adds that the speak­ers and those tak­ing in the con­fer­ence from across the prov­ince. She ex­plains that this is tar­geted for those out­side of Cal­gary, Ed­mon­ton, Red Deer etc. be­cause ru­ral Al­berta "is a unique pop­u­la­tion."

There will be guest speak­ers and key­note ad­dresses which will will also fea­ture study/dis­cus­sion bear-pit ses­sions where peers can talk about cer­tain top­ics.

In or­der to ad­dress a wide va­ri­ety of is­sues fac­ing men­tal health pro­fes­sion­als, there are four "break­out ses­sions."

On Nov. 12, cannabis talk, vi­o­lence threat risk as­sess­ment; post sec­ondary (ru­ral men­tal health on post sec­ondary cam­pus). Break­out ses­sions on Nov. 13 in­clude com­mu­nity col­lab­o­ra­tion-con­flict res­o­lu­tion; nalox­one train­ing; e-men­tal health tool for youth; post trau­matic stress dis­or­der; Cam­rose Men's Shed Re­sponse Com­mit­tee; Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence In­ter­ven­tion and Sex­ual As­sault Re­sponse.

Rogers is ex­cited about the speak­ers as­sem­bled. She said the work be­gan in earnest in June but the idea had been bandied about pre­vi­ously.

"The qual­ity of speak­ers are top flight," Rogers states. She says the qual­ity is be­cause of all the or­ga­niz­ers' con­tri­bu­tions in not only sug­gest­ing cer­tain speak­ers but in get­ting in con­tact with them. "Kinda of in a state of dis­be­lief (in re­gards to the high qual­ity of speak­ers). I can't say enough about the pro­fes­sion­al­ism of the speak­ers and them want­ing to be a part of this."

The con­fer­ence is tar­geted for those who specif­i­cally work in the field but can be at­tended by any­one, there is a fee how­ever. There is an open pub­lic event as for­mer Cana­dian Foot­ball League all star line­backer and Grey Cup win­ner Shea Emry will have a pub­lic pre­sen­ta­tion 7 p.m., Nov. 12 at the Brooks Her­itage Inn. Tick­ets are $20.

To get more de­tails on Emry's pre­sen­ta­tion or about the other con­fer­ence speak­ers please see the web­site at www.rmh­con­fer­ence.ca.

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