This is Tom’s Story
CMHA-NL has helped us provide services without barriers to our clients and in addition, helping our staff feel safe in being able to feel that they’re educated in knowing how to carry on conversations about mental health and mental wellness.
CMHA-NL wanted to talk about an approach not just a program. How we could have a strategic partnership where the people at Workplace NL could benefit from a two tiered approach, the first being Changing Minds, and the second Mental Health First Aid.
It was not going to just be faceless education; this was going to be education that was delivered by people that focused on real cases, real mental illnesses, and real mental health issues.
We wanted to start the conversation with experts who could set the tone for the conversation, give us permission to have the conversation, but do it in a way that minimized the opportunity for stigma and really just letting staff know that we were not just talking about faceless others, we were talking about ourselves. [This] would create the opportunity for us to use that knowledge for the betterment of the clients we serve. We wanted to know that if we stared a conversation that we know how to participate in that conversation, and that if our clients or staff present with a concern around their own mental wellness, how to engage and assist them in getting the help they needed. The unintended consequence was that there were conversations taking place on every floor about mental health and mental illness, but also that it was quite normal. The intended consequence was a different type of conversation with our clients. I am happy to report that this has even gone better and faster than anything I could have hoped for.
Education and awareness is critical for our staff because of its ability to motivate change. Many people are missing the words and the language to carry on the conversation, so just having some basic education on what is schizophrenia, psychosis, a psychotic break, or what is mental health and what does it look like. The staff participated in the training for those purposes of knowing what to say, how to say it, and say it in a way that was respectful and dignified. If we had the facts, then we had a real opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives.
You can pick up a book and you can read about this, but if you are truly trying to make a difference, you need to make sure CMHA-NL is involved. They have the right people, the right tools, and make the right revelations at the right time so that it’s meaningful, and it’s relevant to our experience. It will help make a difference.