To our membership:
Writing this on first day of spring has me thinking about rebirth and new hope. Spring has always represented hope to me. I think it’s because I’d somehow made it through some long, dark winters praying for the spring because at least then I could feel a bit of a lift. Although there was still a lot of guck to face, I could see the birds come out from hiding, and the grass coming through the blanketing snow. Somehow I could feel the “glimpses” of hope that are all-to-often absent for some of us. The NNMH Board, staff and volunteers hope that your lives are full of those “glimpses.”
Here we are in the last couple of weeks of March and we at the NNMH are hopeful. Today we submitted a proposal to the SDPP-D Directed Grants Transition Support Measures Fund for a project we’ve named “Back to the Future” where we hope to receive funds to set up consumer networks (a body that encourages membership at the local, provincial and national levels and funnels up information/concerns/successes to the national office to work on or celebrate) in each of the provinces and territories. There are established consumer networks now – for instance in Newfoundland – The Consumers Health Awareness Network of Newfoundland and Labrador (CHANNAL), which was set up back in “the old days’ when the NNMH began in 1989. We want to work with established consumer networks and establish new ones. This is the way that the NNMH can have a true, grass-root, national voice. It’s all very exciting and we hope you are excited too.
This proposal is in direct response to our memberships’ feedback during the NNMH’s strategic planning exercise at the end of 2010.
We’re not proud – we are looking for funds from wherever possible. We are looking at corporations because we know that government funding is not plentiful and with the competitive funding model being put in place across the country, any type of funding will be scarce. It would be nice to run everything with volunteers, but translation, pencils, pens and paper clips still cost money. So, we’re looking everywhere. We are now a virtual organization without an office so we hope to be able to reach out as much as we can through social media and setting up these consumer networks.
The NNMH submitted proposals to the government last August 2012 and in January 2013 and we have not heard anything.
The Board of Directors is growing
One of the items I was brought on to assist in is to strengthen the Board of Directors. The existing Board is strong, but quite small. What we will be doing – short-term – is to bring on people with the skills and experience we need at this time. They may be new or they may be colleagues and/or long-time friends/peers of the NNMH and will serve as consultants or mentors, without a vote. If they wish to run for the Board they must apply the way everyone else does. But for now, we need a little help from our friends. I think we need people who may have a long history of the organization that know the way back to the grass-roots base because they did it.
Past Successes of the NNMH
You know all this talk about rebirth reminds me that the NNMH has had much success over the years. Because we are talking about rebuilding it sometimes sounds like we are a broken down organization – well we’re not. Here are some of the highlights and outcomes of the NNMH worked on diligently over the years by its staff, volunteers and Boards of Directors:
- Facilitated and supported the establishment and growth of consumer networks across the country.
- The NNMH demonstrated strong advocacy around stigma and discrimination. Also, the NNMH advocated the need for a mental health strategy in Canada.
The NNMH was instrumental in leading a call to action for the implementation of the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC). The NNMH provided support on a number of levels that included: website development, consultation, networking, etc. accomplished through: fee for service contracts, cross pollination of leadership, communication with our constituency about MHCC activities, and through consultation.
- The award winning “BUILT Network” program, a partnership of HRSD’s Opportunities Fund, supported persons with mental health issues/disabilities to become employed. This program supported hundreds of people to become gainfully employed.
- The NNMH offers a toll free number for assistance and referral to all Canadians.
- The NNMH is a facilitator and founding member of the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) – a coalition.
- The NNMH initiated and facilitated the development of the Canadian Coalition of Alternatives for Mental Health – a think tank of consumer leaders from across Canada.
- In community outreach
- Identified the most relevant and key priorities of mental health consumer/survivors living in Canada through the distribution and evaluation of a national questionnaire
- In coalition building/involvement and development
- Positive changes in government direction, policies and/or legislation.
- A more unified consumer/survivor voice nationally.
- At least 25 meetings with other alliances and partnerships over the course of any given year.
These are only a few of the NNMH’s accomplishments of the past more than two decades.
Organizations’ change and they need to change, but we need to celebrate what has been done so far. We can’t go forward without acknowledging our very rich past.
We hope to revamp the look of our website over the next few months. A fresh and modern look and improved functions are overdue.
The last word…
Let’s keep moving forward together. Please join our fight to retain our uniqueness and place in this country. We are the only organization of its kind in Canada – a non-diagnostic mental health consumer/survivor organization that is national in scope. Let’s not accept irrelevance – for ourselves or the NNMH!
As always, we wish our membership and friends peace and happiness.
Please provide your feedback via Facebook, Twitter or email. If you have any suggestions or ideas, please let us know. We’re only as good as our membership.
Keep reaching out to us and each other.
Julie L. Flatt, Interim National Executive Director
National Network for Mental Health