Rural Mental Health Conference well received by southern Alberta
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 Nov. 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, encouraging men to talk about their “story.”
The Rural Mental Health Conference was a collaborative initiative 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 Vermilion, Vegreville, Sylvan Lake, Edmonton, Camrose, Ponoka, Calgary, Pincher Creek, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat.
“It was interesting to hear the different perspectives from the various communities,” said one 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 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.”
Conference organizers are preparing a final report that will include participant survey results and other metrics that were gathered. The final report will be made public on the Rural Mental Health Conference website.