Inau­gu­ral Ru­ral Men­tal Health Con­fer­ence well re­ceived

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Prairies - CONTRIBUTED

One hun­dred fif­teen ser­vice providers, com­mu­nity agen­cies, school per­son­nel, men­tal health and health care providers, and in­ter­ested com­mu­nity mem­bers at­tended the Ru­ral Men­tal Health Con­fer­ence that drew at­ten­tion to men­tal health is­sues and ser­vices avail­able for ru­ral Al­ber­tans.

The two and one-half days con­fer­ence was held at the Medicine Hat Col­lege – Brooks Cam­pus Novem­ber 12-14 and fo­cused a broad va­ri­ety of men­tal health top­ics in­volv­ing is­sues and gaps; and ser­vices and re­sources that af­fect the lives of small com­mu­ni­ties in ru­ral Al­berta.

As part of and in ad­di­tion to the con­fer­ence, SheaEmery – Cana­dian Foot­ball League player was Mon­day evening’s guest speaker.

Over 100 guests at­tended this event held at the Brooks Her­itage. SheaEmery, one of the tough­est and mean­est CFL play­ers, strug­gled with de­pres­sion.

His mes­sage was pow­er­ful and yet sim­ple: “I am just a man. A man with a story. What’s yours?”

He en­cour­ages men to talk about their “story.”

The Ru­ral Men­tal Health Con­fer­ence was a col­lab­o­ra­tive ini­tia­tive in co­op­er­a­tion with lo­cal fund­ing part­ners in­clud­ing Medicine Hat Col­lege, City of Brooks, County of Newell, Bas­sano & Dis­trict Health Foun­da­tion, Grass­lands Pub­lic Schools, Cannabis: Let’s Talk Al­berta, Grass­lands Re­gional FCSS, Torxen, Trans Canada, Cana­dian Men­tal Health, DaPaJo Con­struc­tion ltd., and the Ro­tary Club of Brooks.

Con­fer­ence par­tic­i­pants came from many areas in Al­berta – from as far away as Ver­mil­ion, Ve­gre­ville, Wain­wright, Syl­van Lake, Ed­mon­ton, Cam­rose, Ponoka, Cal­gary, Strath­more, Mor­rin, Pincher Creek, Leth­bridge and Medicine Hat as well as lo­cal res­i­dents.

“It was in­ter­est­ing to hear the dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives from the var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties,” said one con­fer­ence par­tic­i­pant from Wain­wright. “The net­work­ing re­ally helps - it helps to know you are not the only one fac­ing the chal­lenges of re­sources and ser­vices for our ru­ral res­i­dents,” said an­other par­tic­i­pant from Strath­more.

“This was timely, and there was a ses­sion for ev­ery­one. The ses­sions were what we needed. There are things that I can im­ple­ment right away. It was a great con­fer­ence and I hope you do it again.”

The con­fer­ence or­ga­niz­ers are pre­par­ing a fi­nal re­port that will in­clude par­tic­i­pant sur­vey re­sults and other met­rics that were gath­eredthrough the con­fer­ence.

The fi­nal re­port will be made avail­able to pub­lic on the Ru­ral Men­tal Health Con­fer­ence web­site once it has been sent to the fund­ing part­ners in De­cem­ber.

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