Meet Charlene Sitar- Part 2
Charlene Sitar is a community animator for Hinton, Alberta.
Community Futures West
The organization Community Futures West has really helped bridge the gap between the rural mental health project and small business owners. COVID-19 has been challenging for many but has really had a grave impact on small business owners which the Community Futures West organization has brought clarity around. Community Futures West was offered as the first point of contact for small business owners to gain support for any mental health concerns they might be experiencing and further was able to connect them to other appropriate services.
Heroes Within the Community
The community of Hinton continues to address mental health concerns in a variety of ways. They have conducted interviews with various professionals within their community to highlight how support continues to be available. From Charlene’s work to other organizations within the community such as, Community Futures West, Hinton Employment Learning Place (HELP) and Bridges, the community continues to support mental health acknowledgement and support for various challenges such as homelessness, diagnosed mental health concerns, and for those who need a safe space to chat.
Continued Awareness about Mental Health
Charlene reflects that she is given the opportunity in her community to engage with individuals of various demographics. Charlene acknowledges that even when her work is not directly with the population that is impacted, her work with those working with these populations definitely makes an impact, “if I don’t have conversations directly with those affected, I am having conversations with people who are directly involved with those people. If we can build awareness and an understanding among people who work with and support those affected, they can provide that information further and have that trickle-down to the people that they support.” Charlene stresses the importance of awareness not just around others mental health but one’s own mental health and she is proud to acknowledge that these conversations are increasing within their community.
Charlene reflected that the community of Hinton is now better prepared to support those struggling with mental health concerns. Charlene recognizes that an unfortunate tragedy the community faced brought to light the need for more conversation around mental health. The development of the continuum model increased the community’s awareness around mental health being on a spectrum and normalizing that it was okay to be impacted by an event that happened in the community at large. Charlene acknowledges that there is still work to be done within the community however she is happy to reflect the conversation within her community around mental health has increased.
Charlene’s Personal Reflection
Charlene admits that she herself thought that mental health was something others dealt with and justified her own down days as “just a down day” and not recognizing it as her own mental health and struggling to acknowledge that she could do something about it. Charlene shared that she has come to understand her own mental health a bit better through her work.
Charlene praised her wonderful community for providing a caring and compassionate space for its members, “the more compassionate we are to one another and ourselves, the better our mental health is for ourselves and collectively as a community.” Charlene reminds her community and everyone around her that it is okay to not be okay and the importance of recognizing what needs to be done to support oneself and others around us.