Personal experiences helping to inform new Vernon, BC mental health programming – Okanagan

The Canadian Mental Health Association’s Vernon, BC, branch is taking an innovative approach to developing new mental health programming.

Instead of just relying on academic knowledge of the topic, the new courses will also contain insights from local people who have lived with mental health concerns.

It’s an approach being adopted by many CMHAs across the country.

“We have a lot of volunteers who have a lot of knowledge who are coming together in an advisory committee to help us with the process of putting that lens of lived experience to how we can deliver the courses in a way that is meaningful to people, ” said CMHA wellness education coordinator Tami Muhlert.

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In Vernon, the program is called Pathways to Wellness.

Course topics that are currently in development include healthy living and how to deal with conflict.

Those with personal experience have been able to bring new insights about day-to-day life with mental health challenges to the curriculum development.

“One of the things that has been really interesting is the focus on the strengths and the resilience of people and what they have done to cope and how they have built on that,” Muhlert said.

Barbara Bryant is among those participating in the advisory committee sharing her insights from living with diabetes and anxiety and experiencing depression in the past.

Bryant notes that when you first get a diagnosis like diabetes and face dietary restrictions it can be “freaky” but she said she has since learned tips that she can now pass on to others.

Bryant is contributing her practical knowledge to the healthy living programming and said it feels good to help others in similar circumstances.

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The hope is that injecting knowledge from those with personal experience will make courses more relevant.

The programming is set to roll out in the new year anyone looking to get involved can get in touch with the Canadian Mental Health Association.