CMHA’s National Peer Support Conference 2018: ACCESS Open Minds was there!

June 1, 2018

Fifteen ACCESS Open Minds network members from across Canada attended the National Conference on Peer Support that was held in Calgary from May 6-8th 2018. ACCESS Open Minds National Youth Council and Family & Carer Council members Leroy Augustine, Bernadette Bernard, Brittany Dalfen, Victoria Fehr, Haley Marion Mclean, Alicia Raimundo, Mckenzie Sock, Lee Thomas, Leah den Besten, Laurie Roeszler, Karen Pinkoski, Kathy Shettell, and Chantelle Mireault, connected with numerous fellow lived experience experts. Peer supporters, non-profit leaders, health care providers and community members dialogued about peer support initiatives and promising practices. ACCESS Open Minds AHS peer support workers/intake clinicians Nakita Dool and Briana Dickie also attended.

Conference participants were keen to learn about the scope of ACCESS Open Minds and our vision to improve youth mental health services in Canada, including offering information about the diverse forms of peer support at AOM sites across Canada. Communities of practices on youth peer support (led by Lee Thomas) and family peer support kick started the conference and offered unique opportunities to connect and learn from various knowledge brokers.

The conference speakers – Gerald Auger, Victoria Maxwell, Sean McCann, Todd Leader – and session leaders were affirming and inspirational. They shared their wisdom through storytelling, music, promising practices, and keynote addresses in the hopes of breaking silos to create a better, healthier, future in which all community members flourish.

Congratulations to Briana Dickie and the AHS team who participated in a panel presentation on Alberta Health Services(AHS)  members’ experiences with the implementation of peer support workers. Participants eagerly asked questions to learn from the panel’s practices.

Congratulations to Victoria Fehr, Laurie Roeszler and Chantelle Mireault for their workshop on Creating Structures for Peer Engagement. Together, they shared their experience with the creation and evolution of ACCESS Open Minds Councils. They also offered a space for participants to learn from each other in order to grow stakeholder engagement.

The next National Peer Support Conference will be held in Toronto in two years’ time. We recommend this conference to researchers, decision makers, clinicians and people with lived experience.

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