Dozens of DMHS stakeholders – including Board members, senior executives, agency staff, clients and family supports – gathered in the Regal Room at the Whitby Centennial Building on Monday, November 30 for the organization’s Annual General Meeting (AGM).
This AGM marked 28 years of providing local community mental health services and Board President Bill Sims launched the event by describing some of the highlights of an extraordinary year for the agency. These include new funding for two Regional Housing Coordinators, new funding for an Aboriginal Addictions and Mental Health Outreach Worker, an expansion of the Hospital-to-Home program into Scarborough (including two new Scarborough-based Community Treatment Order workers) as well as additional investments in supportive housing, seniors’ support and peer support.
Three items represented highlights of the night. First, DMHS unveiled its free new Suicide Prevention and Intervention App. Despite the prevalence of suicide in our communities, few people feel confident helping someone through a suicidal crisis. The purpose of this app is to guide users in what to ask and what to say and to help them link a vulnerable person to immediate crisis support. “Information, education, resources and supports can help people,” says DMHS Chief Executive Officer Rob Adams. “That is why DMHS felt it was important to create a mobile app so that anyone can try to help. There are well known effective measures to help prevent suicide.” Download the app for free at Google Play and/or Apple sites (keyword: DMHS).
A second highlight was a series of Recognition Awards. Rob Adams and Bill Sims recognized Board Members Clyde Catton and Brenda Riviera for 20 years of service on the volunteer-run board. In addition, Jai Mills, Lead, System Design and Integration with the Central East Local Health Integration Network, recognized Jewel Harrington as the recipient of the First Annual Sue Cathcart Peer Recognition Award. This award has been established by DMHS for two purposes: one, to honour individuals who inspire others with the way they live out the spirit of recovery in their lives; and two, to pay tribute to the memory of a much-loved DMHS Peer Support Specialist, Sue Cathcart. Jewel, a speaker with the DMHS-sponsored consumer empowerment group V.A.S.E. – or Voices Against Stigma Everywhere – was chosen for this award by her peers on account of the ways she exemplifies five pillars of recovery: hope; personal responsibility; education; self-advocacy; and support.
The night’s third highlight was a series of stories of recovery shared by a diverse group of individuals associated with DMHS, including clients, family supports and one DMHS staff member. Each story was unique but certain themes emerged including hope, help and perseverance. Collectively, the stories were a bracing and inspiring reminder of the value of community mental health work as DMHS looks forward to the next many years.
For photos from this year’s AGM, please visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/126191794@N04/albums/72157661731594902.