Monthly Meetings

Generally held the second Tuesday of each month, these meetings are a combination of information/education, planning, and sharing experiences with others who understand. Meetings are open to any family member or other caregiver of an adult living with mental illness, and are usually held at the CMHA-ER office, 3rd floor, 10010 105 Street in downtown Edmonton from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Some meetings feature speakers on a specific topic of interest.

Please note that sometimes the location and/or day is changed, so sign up for our monthly e-newsletter or join our Facebook group to get up-to-date information. Usually the most recent newsletter has information about upcoming meetings – you can access that on our newsletter archive page. Alternatively, contact us to confirm the time and location.

 

Alberta Summit on Mental Illness

We’re working with other agencies in Alberta to host the first annual Alberta Summit on Mental Illness on Friday May 22. Join us for a day of stimulating discussion and expert speakers on all aspects of mental illness and the way we deal with it – and how we can improve. Watch this space for more information.

Love You Forever workshops

Love You Forever workshops, held twice a year (spring and fall), are designed to provide practical, relevant information for parents and other caregivers of adults living with mental illness – as well as an opportunity to meet others in similar situations. These can be described as a “boot camp” as they provide plenty of basic information about mental illness and navigating the mental health system.

These workshops are meant for parents and other caregivers who are supporting an adult with a diagnosed mental illness. These are provided free of cost for families and caregivers, thanks to the financial support from Canadian Mental Health Association-Edmonton Region. The workshops are organized entirely by volunteer family members and draw on expertise from local experts.

To get news about future Love You Forever workshops, sign up for our monthly e-newsletter.

 

Facebook Group

Our Facebook group is a private group; only approved members can see the posts. It offers a safe space to ask questions, share concerns and read recent articles of interest. Access the group here.

Monthly newsletter

Newsletters are sent monthly (unless there’s some time-sensitive information that requires a special issue).

Read past issues at the newsletter archive.

Sign up for our monthly newsletter here.

 

Housing

This initiative is still in its infancy. There is a core group looking into sustainable solutions for housing options for those living with serious mental illness. Watch for more information in the future, or contact us if you’d like to be involved.

In the meantime, there is some information on short-term housing in our Support section.

Advocacy

The government is reviewing parts of the Mental Health Act and your input is urgently needed. They’ve posted a survey to gather feedback. Please provide your responses by January 20, 2020.

The Mental Health Act is the main piece of legislation in Alberta that deals with the assessment, treatment and rights of people with a serious mental disorder (illness) in certain situations. The act describes how a person with a mental disorder can be apprehended, detained and/or given treatment in a hospital or in the community under specified conditions. It also explains people’s rights in these circumstances.

The review was prompted by the JH v. AHS court ruling this past July that determined that parts of the Act dealing with involuntary admission and treatment are unconstitutional. Most of the questions in the survey deal with those topics.

The survey has about 40 questions (the exact number depends on the responses you provide). Here are some tips for doing the survey:

  • You can keep your browser window open and come back to the survey later.
  • Do NOT use your browser’s back button if you want to review a previous response; use the back button on the bottom of each page.
  • Most of the questions are multiple-choice but a few have comment boxes. Take full advantage of those opportunities to add comments, even if they aren’t directly related to the question. We may not have many other chances for input.
  • In composing your comments, you may want to first type them on a word document and then copy and paste into the survey comment box.
  • The final survey question is open-ended and asks, “Is there anything else you would like to tell us about the Mental Health Act?”  We’ve prepared some points to discuss if you need some ideas – see below.

It’s vitally important that we present families’ experience in this survey. Even at this busy time of year, we hope you’ll find a few minutes to provide your responses.

BEGIN THE SURVEY HERE:
https://extranet.gov.ab.ca/opinio6//s?s=MentalHealthAct

 

Ideas for survey comments

(feel free to adapt these or add your own):

Early treatment is vital in preventing ongoing illness and more hospitalizations – this has been demonstrated in numerous studies. Those who have a serious mental illness are often hospitalized numerous times. Changes to the Act can reduce the number of subsequent involuntary hospitalizations by eliminating or reducing needless delays due to legalities.

As families are generally the first to notice the symptoms and the life-long caregivers (long after hospitalization), they should be given more of a role where appropriate. Currently, families are often called in to be substitute decision makers when a patient is deemed incompetent – however, they are routinely excluded from knowing what treatment had occurred prior to that point, and excluded from treatment decisions afterwards. Numerous studies have indicated that consistent, informed support by family and community are integral to recovery.

The government has an opportunity to provide a more humane approach by eliminating barriers to early treatment and by allowing families wherever possible to be involved in the treatment of their loved one. This will not only help people with serious mental disorders but also decrease productivity losses of family members forced to take time off work to help their loved ones, and reduce the number of expensive hospital re-admissions. Please do whatever you can to help those who need treatment, even if they don’t recognize it at the time.

 


 

We also work with the Edmonton zone of Alberta Health Services – Addiction and Mental Health to provide families’ perspectives. In the short time we’ve been around (since late 2016), we’ve been involved with these activities:

  • participation in zone-wide strategic planning sessions,
  • participation in a family presence working group,
  • development of family resources regarding the Health Information Act and sharing of information,
  • participation in staff development opportunities to share the family perspective,
  • providing input into the development of housing information sessions for families,
  • participation in working groups planning the Access 24/7 Mental Health Hub
  • participation in working groups planning the Edmonton Recovery College
  • Love You Forever workshops, which are attended by AHS staff as well as families.

FAMI-Alberta members are also working with Alberta Health and other organizations to help direct future programs and policies at a provincial level.