The Family Unit

Webinar Supporting Military Family Mental Health

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) hosted a town hall webinar for staff and volunteers in an effort to support military families.

The CMHA and Military Family Services (MFS), are currently exploring on how the two organizations can effectively work together in a way that connects military families to civilian mental health programs and resources across Canada.

“CMHA routinely works with a number of community-based and national organizations to share technical resources and other information that can help us all better serve people in their communities,” said Mark Ferdinand, national director public policy, Canadian Mental Health Association.

During the webinar held last month Lieutenant-Colonel Suzanne Bailey, social worker, Canadian Forces Health Service Group and Todd Stride, senior manager of community development, MFS worked to identify how conditions of service including mobility, separation, and unlimited liability contribute to the unique and unpredictable nature of military life.

Webinar participants were familiarized with CAF mental health programs and services currently available to both CAF members and their families, including the Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR).

R2MR training encompasses the entire package of resilience and mental health training embedded throughout each CAF member’s career.

Bailey and Stride shared practical examples of how communities can potentially make subtle modifications to key elements of their civilian mental health programs and services to address better the needs of CAF families.

“Based on webinar highlights provided to us by MFS, we expect that CMHA colleagues will learn more about programming information, the needs of military family members and specific practical examples that will help make CMHA programs, supports or services more sensitive to the needs of families,” said Ferdinand.

Through the webinar representatives of various CMHA divisions, branches and regions also learned ways to improve program service delivery to military families through creating relationships with MFRCs across Canada.

Lieutenant-Colonel Suzanne Bailey has been a member of the CAF for 27 years, beginning her career as a military police officer and then completing her post-graduate education in 1996 to become a social work officer. After doing clinical work on military bases in Canada for nine years, she was employed in Mental Health Promotion and Mental Health Education and Training from 2005 to 2011. In July 2011, LCol Bailey was promoted to her current rank and appointed National Practice Leader for Social Work for the CAF.

Todd Stride is the senior manager of community development with MFS in Ottawa. He has over 15 years experience in the management of community programming with Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services. In addition to being a trained educator, Todd holds a graduate degree in management from the Université du Québec en Outaouais.

CMHA, founded in 1918 is one of the oldest voluntary organizations in Canada. Each year, the organization provides direct mental health related service to more than 100,000 Canadians through the combined efforts of more than 10,000 volunteers and staff across Canada in over 120 communities.

MFS is responsible for the management of the Military Family Services Program (MFSP) on behalf of the Department of National Defence (DND) and the CAF.

For more information on CMHA Programs and Services or to access the Supporting Military Families Webinar please visit the CMHA website.

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Vicki L Morrison

Thanks to her husband's military career Vicki reinvented herself as a writer so she could work from home, while taking care of their three kids. A former MFRC executive director Vicki is a passionate advocate for military families who loves telling their stories.

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