Community steps up.
$1.7 Million raised to fund local mental health supports
KELOWNA, BC, August 23, 2022 – The Kelowna General Hospital (KGH) Foundation’s call to action to fund the immediate needs and long-term system innovation in local mental health care has been answered, with $1.7 million in funds raised in just over five months.
“I am incredibly proud of this community for stepping up and taking action on an area of health care where we so desperately need funding right now,” says Allison Ramchuk, CEO of the KGH Foundation. “The swiftness with which we reached our goal sends a clear message to all who are struggling right now. We see you,” adds Ramchuk, referencing the Foundation’s campaign slogan.
The We see you campaign launched publically on March 10, 2022, acknowledging that the mental health care crisis has not gone unnoticed. The campaign promised to provide the immediate funding so desperately needed for local mental health care programs and resources, a first-of-its-kind collaboration in support of system innovation.
Recognizing the overwhelming demand that mental health service providers face, immediate funding has already been disbursed to community service providers, including the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) – Kelowna receiving the funding needed for a Family Peer Supporter position.
“A Family Peer Supporter is a person who uses their own living/lived experience to help others. They know what it’s like to be a parent of a young person who is experiencing mental health and/or substance use challenges and trying to navigate the system for help,” explains Mike Gawliuk, CEO of CMHA Kelowna.
“This will allow us to provide families, parents, and caregivers direct, on-site assistance through individualized peer-based practical, emotional, and social supports. The role adds another layer of support that will empower and inform parents as they work through the issues the young people in their lives are facing,” says Gawliuk.
Funds raised will also support Kelowna’s Child Advocacy Centre (CAC) by boosting resources for upstream support for children who have experienced abuse and criminal trauma. “Like all not-for-profit agencies, our ability to service is always connected directly to our funding,” says Ginny Becker, CAC Executive Director. “This funding allows us to expand on the important work we do to support these most vulnerable little community members when they need it most.”
Funding acute and community mental health services is not the whole solution. The increased demand for services and the need to provide more accessible, inclusive, equitable and sustainable mental health care, especially for those communities that are the most vulnerable, also require a funding commitment to system change.
“Thanks to the generosity of this community, the Mental Health Collective Impact Fund will help resource the collaboration and innovation required to develop a better system of care for those who are struggling, particularly when it comes to early intervention,” explains Ramchuk. “Multiple perspectives, knowledge sharing, time, and resources are crucial to innovation, and the Mental Health Collective Impact Fund seeks to deliver that. By empowering those with the experience and expertise to conduct vital research, boundaries can be pushed, and the status quo can be challenged. A new system of mental health care is possible.”
A committee comprised of local acute and community health care leaders meets on October 7, 2022, to begin this work.
“The mental health crisis permeates every aspect of our collective society,” says Becker. “It will truly take the entire community to make a difference. That’s what is finally happening. The entire community is standing together. We are deeply grateful to all who supported this campaign and who will continue to give in support of local mental health programs.”
For more information about the We see you campaign and its goals, visit kghfoundation.com/mental-health.
Since 1978, the KGH Foundation has worked with a generous community to raise funds to support world-class health care close to home for a rapidly expanding and diverse population in the interior of B.C. Today, the KGH Foundation is the lead fundraising organization for Kelowna General Hospital and its associated facilities, JoeAnna’s House and Central Okanagan Hospice House.