For our project, rural and remote communities include all communities outside of the seven urban centers across Alberta (i.e., Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer, Grand Prairie, and Fort McMurray).
Year 1 – November 2018 to August 2019:
In this pilot phase, we welcome 8-10 diverse communities to work closely with our team in learning through a rapid innovation cycle, while refining our training and network prototypes to ensure they are impactful for communities. This involved ongoing milestone check-ins and discussions.
Year 2 – From September 2019 to August 2020:
We will work with approximately 32 communities Animators & communities to offer training and build connections through the Network.
Year 3 – From September 2020 to August 2021:
We will work with approximately 110 communities’ Animators & communities to offer training and build connections through the Network.
In each year of the project, there will be multiple cohorts. Each cohort will include 15-20 individuals and the location of training will vary
Our goal is to train Animators in 150 rural communities. We acknowledge that relationships within and across communities varies greatly. To identify interested communities and Animators, we will rely on the local expertise of FCSS or Indigenous community-based organization to provide guidance.
We will use a combination of approaches. Community Animators can be brought forward from each individual municipality/community, not necessarily one per organizational office. Within counties, some municipalities may have one Animator that would like to work across two municipalities that are already closely linked. While in other municipalities, a single Animator will be better suited given the distance, nature of community relationships, etc. between communities. It is important that we support local community members to become Animators to ensure Coalitions are truly community-led, while also reducing mileage and demands of Animators having to travel from town to town.
Community involvement is voluntary. Only those who indicate interest in being involved in the project will be selected.
We know that amazing work is currently taking place around mental health in many communities. We would love to work together to explore opportunities to strengthen current communities’ efforts, through offering connections to the Rural Mental Health project Animator training and Network.
If your community has an existing Coalition, we encourage you to get involved in the project and to consider sending a current coalition member to join in the Animator training. The training and network can help build the capacity of the Coalition and provide access to additional free training, tools, resources, and funding via the Network. We want to be sure to support and extend the work taking place, rather than making more work for community members, professionals, and communities.
The project is focused on building the capacity and connections within and across rural communities regarding mental health, illness, and community wellbeing. The aim is for community members to lead and participate in setting the direction for collective action. Those with lived experiences are important to include in the Coalition to provide their insights and experiences. Together, the community can decide what actions are needed to improve the mental health of their community and those specific strategies will look differently in different communities.
Those who need immediate support are encouraged to seek support through the appropriate avenues available in the community.
Community Animators will receive training to build their understanding of mental health, mental illness, wellness, and supporting collaborative community-direction setting and decision making. The training includes providing tools and resources as a guide. The Animator will be responsible for using the training and tools to bring together a community Coalition. Working with the support of the FCSS/Indigenous organization and Network, the Animator will invite various community stakeholders, coordinate a space to host and facilitate monthly meetings.
After uniting a Coalition, the Animator will be a catalyst and guide to support the Coalition in collaboratively creating a Transformational Roadmap, getting community members to set the direction for a mentally healthy community. This will require self-reflection, social awareness, and excitement to learn from their fellow community members. Animators will guide Coalition meetings and facilitate the develop activities that align with the Roadmap and assist the Coalition to collectively implement the actions together.
The Network will provide a connection across Communities Animators and others that will be introduced and embedded in training and will continue to be a source of connection, resources, training, and collaboration to sustain community efforts and relationships. The Network is a platform for communities to find ways to coordinate or collaborate (e.g., shared psychologist, training opportunities). It also provides Animators with additional resources, tool kits, and training opportunities. In sum, the Network will be a continual space for learning and collaboration.
Funding opportunities and new resources will be regularly added, along with opportunities to discuss arising experiences. The Network will also support Coalitions and Animators to upload and share their communities’ progress through updating tools/maps online. It will be a place where group chats and brainstorming can be done with other Animators and interested stakeholders.
Our hope is that the Network evolves into a Community of Practice – that is owned and led by the Animators, with background support from CMHA for things such as website maintenance.
No, the Rural Mental Health Network will continue indefinitely.
The Community Coalitions and Rural Mental Health Network will go on beyond the 3 year project. The Network can support the ongoing connections of Animators and others, while continually uploading learning, access to training, additional resources and more.
We are speaking with and continuing to advocate to government to ensure that there are additional resources in the future to support the efforts and actions of Coalitions as they craft their transformational roadmap and corresponding actions overtime, and as they evolve.
We ask all interested rural community member stakeholders to connect with their local FCSS office or a local community-based organization in indigenous communities.
If you are an interested FCSS staff or work in an indigenous community, we ask that you complete and return the Expression of Interest form to let us know how you would like to be involved. This helps us know of your interest and follow up with additional information and answer any questions you may have.
If you are a local or provincial stakeholder with an organization or institution, you can connect directly with the Rural Mental Health project through the website and through CMHA staff.
Learn more about how to get involved here.