Rallying the “Troops”

(I use the term troops with respect).

Please come and join us and lend a hand – we need you.

For those of you who do not know, the Board of Directors of the National Network for Mental Health (NNMH) has hired me on a three-month contract to carry out specific tasks resulting from their strategic planning exercise held over a year ago. A couple of these tasks are as follows:

reignite and grow the membership of NNMH
solidify the national Board of Directors

Personally, I have been around mental health for the past 23 years beginning inthe position of Consumer Liaison at the Canadian Mental Health Association, National Office in the “Building a Framework for Support Project: Building a National Consumer Network” initiative in 1989. I began working with established contacts or finding new contacts who were consumers to set up networks in the provinces/territories to develop a national voice and to form a national, consumer-owned and operated organization. Two years later we incorporated the National Network for Mental Health. The NNMH is a source of pride to many of us who believed that we needed something to call our own – and finally – we got it in the last decade of the 20th century.

The NNMH still lives on all these years later and is a national organization that has a grassroots history and approach. It is the only non-diagnostic mental health consumer/survivor organization in Canada. All of our board members, staff, and voting members are 100% mental health consumer/survivors, which was always the intention. Please feel free to read about it if you have not heard and please become a member at www.nnmh.ca (individual membership is free).

The NNMH has done a really good job over the years, but times change, funding parameters change and we change sometimes as well. We need your help to get back to the grass-roots organization we were clearly identified with being for so long. We have heard over and over from the membership that we have become somewhat out of touch. We want to remedy this as much as is possible and become the truly national voice that we need to be. We have the right to question when we do not understand, the right to seek funding wherever we can so that we can carry out our activities, and the right to be heard. Now as never before we have to come together and organize in the regions, provinces and territories. We are the only organization of its kind in Canada – that makes us special – we belong, and we are here to stay, but we can only do it by all of us working together. Funding is scarce and we cannot carry out activities without it.

We are currently applying for funding wherever we can so that we can honour the wishes of our membership and implement the strategic plan developed last year. Please click here to read the strategic plan.

Developing membership can be difficult as many of us struggle day-to-day with poverty, discrimination, unemployment or just to stay alive with symptoms of ill health, but I believe we can do it because no matter what we can help each other in some way. Sometimes we believe that we cannot do anything – our confidence is low, we feel intimidated, but just reaching out to another consumer (ex-patient/survivor/consumer-survivor – whatever we call ourselves) to give or receive peer support, or to check the NNMH and other related websites regularly to find out how we can be involved is taking ownership of your organization.

Our voice has dwindled somewhat in recent years. We cannot accept this. We need to speak loudly as a collective to remind everyone that we are not going anywhere. Our funding is very limited, but we need to keep knocking on all doors to change this.

Contact the National Network for Mental Health (NNMH) at www.nnmh.ca to see what you can do to help. We are stronger in numbers.

We’ll be in touch soon to update you on how we are doing. Please let us know if you have any ideas for networking or connecting with others in your area – we are especially concerned about reaching out to those who may not have access to a computer.

If you can, join us on Facebook here or contact us at (888) 406-4663

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