Edmonton Coalition on Housing and Homelessness was fortunate to have members from the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA); Edmonton Region present an update on their Strategy Plan and Implementing 211 into a more interactive site.
We had Giri Puligandla, Executive Director of CMHA Edmonton Region talk about CMHA's roles and community programs. Emma Potter is the Senior Director of Service Systems for CMHA Edmonton Region overseeing the 211, Distress Line and navigation and advocacy programs.
CMHA has a main focus on Mental Health in the community. They currently serve 330 communities across Canada. It has been around for over a century helping people with Mental Health. They provide help on a multitude of levels.
211 provides 24/7 information for Seniors, family violence, covid response among dozens of other needs. Distress Line for those experiencing mental health concerns. They also provide training programs for those in crisis and those helping people in crisis. Thsi include suicide prevention training, mental health first aid and peer navagating.
CMHA recently acquired Prosper Place which is a Peer led peer provided resources to those needing a hand coping and growing from their diagnosis. This organization has been placed in CMHA's Recovery College that has lived-experience people create and facilitate courses to help recovery support to the community.
Thanks in a small part to covid, the stigma on mental health and its impacts have been brought forward and more openly talked about. This stigma needs to be removed and replaced with an open dialect, the same as one talking about diabetes, heart disease, vision impairment(needing glasses to see), or even asthma. We accept these as acceptable health concerns that are not made to be negative. Mental health, no matter the diagnosis, is the same and we need to start recognizing this.
Places like CMHA have the tools to help educate society on the ways to appropriately address these concerns.
Mental health has a large impact on housing for people living with a mental health diagnosis. It can be difficult and confusing for someone who may frequently have crisis with their diagnosis and may need support to gain appropriate housing or even to keep that housing. CMHA supports and engages in creating affordable housing opportunities.
211 and the distress lines are direct connections that community members can access immediately for support, resources and programs. 211 Alberta is funded by Alberta Health Services in part with CMHA and community partners. By recognizing the gaps in mental health services, either through accessing supports and accessing Alberta Health Services. It is their goal to link those services for easier access as well as 24/7 support. Awareness of 211 and its services need to be more available by educating groups such as ECOHH and its membership on how they can use, access, and share the services provided through 211. This should become a household go-to for mental health support the same as 911 is for emergencies.
211 has been in Edmonton since 2006 with phone services, text support, live chat and website 24/7 free access. It is available in 170 different languages. At present the need for 211 and services like this are greatly increasing.
Data is still being gathered by CMHA on the effects of providing these services as well as their role in affordable housing and its needs in Edmonton.
Emma Potter can be contacted directly at EPotter@cmha-edmonton.ab.ca for more info and answer any questions one may have,
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