Advancing Local Mental Health Care

IT TAKES A VILLAGE

Ellen Boelcke, Executive Director, Kelowna Community Resources
Mike Gawliuk, CEO, CMHA Kelowna
Allison Young, CEO, KGH Foundation
Ginny Becker, Executive Director, CAC Kelowna

The urgent need to address mental health care in our communities continues to dominate the conversation. However, the generosity of donors to the We see you campaign is catalyzing more than just talk. By resourcing both immediate needs and committing funding to ‘buy time’ for mental health care professionals across the continuum to re-imagine the system of care, the impact of the $1.7 million campaign is already visible.

The We see you campaign launched on March 10, 2022. It has been a game changer in providing much-needed funding for local mental health care programs and resources. The unique collaboration initiated by the KGH Foundation, CMHA Kelowna, Child Advocacy Centre Kelowna (CAC), Kelowna Community Resources, and Interior Health has paved the way for innovative solutions in supporting our mental health care system.

INCREASING CAPACITY AT THE CHILD ADVOCACY CENTRE (CAC) KELOWNA

Ginny Becker, Executive Director of CAC Kelowna, attests to the campaign’s critical timing. “With CAC having two and a half years of service delivery behind us, we had significant and compelling evidence of the challenges and barriers families faced in accessing mental health services following an experience of child abuse.”

Thanks to the funding from We see you, the CAC has been able to expand its caregiver support groups, providing vital psychoeducational support, tools, and resources to help children affected by trauma. The CAC hired Dr. Pia Pechtel, a clinical psychologist, as a key member of the team, to help lead the evolution of the CAC programming and increase the capacity to serve vulnerable young members of the community.

ADVANCING FAMILY SERVICES AT FOUNDRY

At Foundry, part of CMHA Kelowna Family Services, We see you funding made it possible to hire a Family Peer Supporter, someone who uses their lived experience to empower and inform parents as they navigate mental health care for their young ones. The program has already guided 380 caregivers through 1,140 sessions in 2022. Demand for support continues to grow, highlighting the ongoing need for this kind of support. A SAFE

SPACE FOR EVERYONE

We see you also supported a pilot project with This Space Belongs to You (This Space) in Kelowna. Meaghan Duckett, This Space Founder and Counsellor, is seeing the impact of that funding on her clients. “Accessing any form of social service support, including mental health care services, is a scary and dangerous place for queer and Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour (IBPOC) people,” she explains. “With the funding from the KGH Foundation, we were able to support over 82 individual youth through 450 sessions of one-to-one mental health counselling, free of charge.”

With an average of 34 referrals per month and growing, This Space is indeed an essential ‘space’ for young members of our community.

“This Space is an invaluable refuge for young people in our community who struggle to find safe, affirming services that understand their unique experiences, says Meaghan. “Sixty-two percent of our clients are not aware of any other 2SLGBTQIA+ (Two-Spirit people, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual) and/ or IBPOC-specific services in the Central Okanagan,” states Meaghan.

COLLECTIVE IMPACT

“Through your generosity, we are fostering a collective impact on our community’s mental health crisis,” states Allison (Allie) Young, CEO of the KGH Foundation. “Through the Mental Health Collective Impact Fund established as part of the We see you campaign, we have worked with leaders in the community to understand the main elements required of a mental health and substance use system of care and identify barriers to working as a system. Our next steps are to prioritize funding and determine where the foundation can best support and facilitate positive change.”

Ginny emphasizes that it takes the entire community to come together to make a lasting difference. “It really does take a village,” she says. “It is incredible what is possible when we work together. To witness the success of this partnership is to know that there is hope. We are deeply grateful to all who have supported the We see you campaign and who continue to give in support of local mental health programs,” she says.

Blake Comeau and Josh Gorges celebrate the return of the Homebase Charity Slo-Pitch Tournament. Funds raised supported the We see you campaign in 2022.

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