The Camrose and Area Risk Education (CARE) Coalition main goal is to promote healthy relationships by:
- Increasing awareness of harms related to risk taking behaviours
- Increasing skills among youth and adults to make healthy choices
- Creating supportive environments
CARE is comprised of a variety of sub-committees including one that focuses on mental health. In July of 2018, the Mental Health subcommittee met to identify some areas of focus and accompanying goals and strategies for the 2018-19 school year. In planning for World Suicide Prevention Day at this meeting, it became apparent that more of a focus upon suicide prevention was needed in the community. The group decided to focus on suicide prevention initiatives throughout the year by targeting a variety of age groups through various initiatives at different times in the year. How/ Why did they know to focus on this?
The goals of this initiative include:
- Sharing prevention messages regarding suicide
- Increase grief supports for suicide survivors
- Engage new partners in suicide prevention initiatives
The first community event took place on September 10 on World Suicide Prevention Day. Partners coordinated a series of spaces throughout Camrose where evidence based resources, displays and supports were made available to the public.
It was exciting to see new community partners engaged on a joint initiative. Fresh ideas and energy were brought to the table. Community partners included: Canadian Mental Health Association, Camrose Hospice Society, Augustana Campus of the University of Alberta, Camrose Women’s Shelter, Camrose Police Services, Camrose Open Door, Mental Health Capacity Building Project for Battle River School Division, Family Wellness Worker for Our Lady of Mount Pleasant and St. Patrick Schools, Alberta Health Services Mental Health Promotion and Addiction Prevention and Alberta Health Services Community and School Health Promotion.
Partners were able to successfully share resources and messages in different formats at multiple locations in Camrose, including the Public Library. They also collaborated with a number of agencies to provide a display and supportive listeners at the Augustana Campus of the University of Albert.
The committee then assessed the need for suicide survivor grief supports by piloting a Suicide Survivor Grief Support Walk. What they heard was that a sufficient need being expressed in the community for a grief support group specifically for suicide survivors. The possibility for supplying this in the community are currently being explored.
A free Community Christmas Party took place on December 25, 2018. The CARE Coalition helped promote the event through social media and distributed candy canes and cards containing contact numbers for mental health supports and information in the junior/senior high schools. The message that was spread is that no one needs to be alone at Christmas.
The Free Community Christmas Party was a great success with around 100 people attending an increase from the previous year. New volunteers were involved and had a wonderful time. The support of our CARE Coalition enabled new partnerships to form between the original organizers of the event and a local school who opened their doors for this use on December 25. This is a partnership that has the potential to continue for years to come.