Meet Yvonne Rempel, one of the Animators in Grande Cache.
I often get asked what a Rural Animator is. (Generally results in a snigger or a joke about cartoonists). I found that discussing my job title is a great way of starting a conversation, beginning that process of engagement and relationship building. As an Animator my role is to work alongside community to identify the assets, strengths and opportunities to take action towards Rural Mental Health or Mental Well Being. There is still a negative stigma in rural communities regarding mental health with accessibility, availability and affordability. I hope to change that in my community. It is not always about “more money or funding needed” it is about utilizing what we have more efficiently and effectively when it comes to supporting Community Mental health. I learnt a long time ago “you don’t know what you know until you know what you know”.
The positive side of Covid-19 in my community, Grande Cache is that I have observed an increase in community getting involved; helping our fellow neighbors, relying on and utilizing local resources (socially and economically), strengthening community collaborations and general enhancing a sense of community. I am an optimist and believe there is a mind shift at play towards a better sense of mental health and well-being. It has happened organically and is community driven.
The Rural Mental Health Project has broadened my scope of understanding when it comes to community development and has also provided me with an opportunity to network with a larger group of “like minded” individuals that are passionate about their communities. The strength of a Rural Animator is believing that community based or driven solutions are more likely to be sustainable when you have the support of a local community. Animation role is to empowering the community to create action.
In order for Rural Mental Health we must embrace technology where phones and the internet play a significant role in delivering services benefits include less travel time, lower costs, fewer missed appointments, improved service availability, and increased convenience. As a community we need to continue to support our primary care providers and build stronger (it’s about building trust) collaborations between our health-care providers (in rural communities they are often “jack of all trades”) and community-based resources. As a Rural Animator we are also promoting connections with culture to reduce negative impacts and better access to services. The unique needs and characteristics of each rural community are taken into consideration for the Rural Mental Health Project with the principles of community development in promoting local expertise, identifying and build on community assets, relying on the strengths and building on opportunities to ensure quality mental health and well-being services for all. I am proud to call Grande Cache a rural community home. Check out Grande Cache Healthier Together FB page. Check out this video: https://www.facebook.com/105106391058219/videos/309833090170748/