The Mental Health Matters Event at the Delta Hotel in Thunder Bay was held on January 21, 2023, gathering groups of likeminded helping professionals with the same goal: to make our community a healthier place to be.
KMH Foundation was one of the attendees among many, and of course our colleagues with the Kelly Mental Health Clinic were able to speak throughout the day about many of the issues our citizens face each day, from financial instability, to stigma around mental health issues, to lack of adequate funding, to the missing component of a centralized system for people to get help among the many private facilities around the region.
We were proud to represent our counselling program there and to let attendees know that counselling coverage is open to anyone in crisis. As long as funds are in place, we continue to try to fill the gap between public and private services so that people can get professional help when it matters most.
We want to send out a sincere thank you to the event planners and volunteers with Kelly Mental Health, the staff at the Delta, and our colleagues that attended and were able to truly connect with one another, putting faces to names and developing deeper understandings of the services available locally.
If you hadn't noticed yet, we've had an upgrade around here! It was long overdue and necessary to really give us all that last push we needed to show you, the public, our supporters, our volunteers, and everyone that has been along for this ride, exactly what we're about.
There tends to be confusion about that difference between Kelly Mental Health and Kelly Mental Health Foundation - and that makes sense. They started very close together - about a year and a half difference, both started by me but for different reasons when I realized how running a private clinic could limit what I'd be able to do for our city, but running a separate non-profit, soon-to-be charity, meant we could do so much more.
But the names have been a problem. So, solution is to update the name, keep the acronym to hang onto our roots, but make it clear that wellness and well-being are the primary focus of what we do.
While working away at this at all hours of the night, the words kept repeating over and over in my head - "For each other, For Community." It got to the point that the words lost all meaning - I kept hearing it echo. But yet, it was powerful, and meaningful. I live in Thunder Bay. It's a city that has earned quite the reputation. And there is a seemingly endless need here for mental health resources and supports, for lifelong healing, and I want to be a part of that. I truly believe that collectively, we have the power to make this beautiful city something really spectacular. And we start that by helping one another, by stopping abuse and breaking cycles and creating such a sense of safety that people can finally begin to heal.
This organization is going to do some incredible work this year - and we're going to start by building up our network of private practitioners so we can form a hub - a place with all the knowledge about who is out there, what their expertise is, how quickly they can take a client in crisis, and where they keep their secret bat-phone so at least WE can get through to them when we need to. (For the record, I'm a fan of texting. I'll always answer a text).
In the meantime, thank you all so much for your support and goodwill as we figured out how to stand on our own feet and move forward. Lots to come this year!
New Year, New Board Members!
Hi! It's Linda - I'm in my home office (the basement since the kids had dibs on the bedrooms), letting you know about some updates with KMH Foundation!
I'm so excited to let you know that we have new board members, Chris and Stefanie, that joined us this past year to help us sort through counselling applications and streamline our #donation and fundraising processes.
To move forward into the future, it's vital to consider where we've been, what we've learned, where we need to grow, and ultimately what good we want to do in the world. I am so proud to let you know that since starting up, we have been able to connect so many people for #crisis services and #trauma counselling with private practitioners, fully funding their sessions with donations from businesses and people like you.
In all of it, the thing that is most important to us is that we strive to live by #values that help everyone, including:
-People should not have to beg or wait an unreasonable length of time for counselling. #MentalHealth cannot and should not be put on the back burner. It is the essence of who we are and should always be respected.
-Practitioners should be paid appropriately for their expertise and all the overhead that comes with having private offices. Insurance companies, Employee Assistance Programs, and special programs often cap session fees at 50-60%. We seek to change this and pay the appropriate public rates for private practitioners.
We know very well that when a person is in a mental health crisis, but not enough of a crisis where the resources at the hospital will be enough, they can face enormous wait lists. But, if there is a way to pay for private sessions from the incredible private practitioners in our community, they CAN get help, and quickly!
That's where we come in. Donations are pooled and our board members review and manage applications for #therapy coverage from individuals or #therapists. If we can cover it, we cover it. If we can't, we want to be out there #fundraising and knocking down barriers every chance we get.
"A Night of Magical Delusions" Event
Held on May, 19, 2022, the Magical Delusions Event in support of the KMH Foundation was the first of its kind. With headliner, Mackinley Delusions, attendees were brought on a delightful and mind-blowing trip as it seemed that minds were read and the confines of reality (and physics) were stretched. The evening was made exciting as well with the incredible prizes available with the silent auction, and the night was capped off with dancing and fantastic music courtesy of Thunder and Light Entertainment.
With the event designed and promoted by the team at Kelly Mental Health, the fabulous meal prepared by Tomlin, and the gorgeous atmosphere of Thunder Bay's hidden gem, The Chanterelle, the event went off without a hitch, being well-attended by some of Thunder Bay's biggest mental health advocates. The speeches acknowledged and recognized the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our collective mental health and well-being, and Mackinley's very open discussion of his own challenges with mental health brought to life the importance of accessible, honest, and down-to-earth, and timely psychotherapy services that KMH Foundation has strived to provide for our community.
We are so thankful for all the efforts of the Kelly Mental Health team and all volunteers and businesses that supported the event, and can't wait to see what they put together next time!
The proceeds collected from this event paid for over 20 specialized trauma treatment sessions for those in need!
Mask Anxiety - Live Webinar
On July 29, 2020, just a few months into the Covid-19 pandemic, we were approached to give information to the public on the difficulty adapting to wearing masks around our community.
Masking had only recently become mandatory, and it was something we'd never experienced before in Canada or Ontario. People were feeling a lot of stress and pressure around the mandates. It sometimes felt like by wearing a mask, they were trying to hide that they were sick or shielding a pandemic-cough instead of just following the rules and protecting one another!
We partnered with the Kelly Mental Health Clinic to put together this free webinar for supporting our community, acknowledging the difficulties in adapting to the pandemic, and giving tips and tricks for how to manage anxiety using tried-and-true clinical skills for self-soothing.
As an outreach event partnering with the clinic, our two board directors were able to WOW the audience (haha...well we tried...it's not easy doing this remotely), and bring light to some of the issues that were being felt but not yet being spoken about.
We hope you enjoyed this offering and that we can continue to provide info on mental health issues and techniques to solve them in future opportunities.
New Mental Health Initiative: Andrew's Fund
Andrew Miedema was a well-loved and deeply respected member of our community that lost his life to suicide. In his memory, several of his friends formed the Andrew Miedema Foundation to raise funds for programming to help others access mental health services. It is their wish to prevent further loss and to improve the quality of people’s lives.
For more information about the Andrew Miedema Foundation:
Sometimes, private services are the only timely option available for people that are struggling, and cost can be a barrier.
Andrew’s Fund is a special initiative provided in partnership between the Andrew Miedema Foundation and Kelly Mental Health Foundation (KMHF).
The fund is geared towards men, ages 18-45, to provide immediate crisis counselling assistance as well as short-term counselling sessions for those that cannot otherwise afford services.
Andrew’s Fund reduces barriers and stigma about mental health issues for men, and strives to make it normal and easy to get help. One shouldn’t have to wait until the point of no return before they finally reach out. It should be easy, people should feel supported throughout the process.
Please click here to be taken to the official 'Andrew's Fund' page, where you will find all relevant information and access to the application forms.
Our First Foray into the Shaw studios was such a great experience! Incredible host Cassandra Nordal invited Linda Kelly and Kelly Graham to talk about the impact of pets on our mental health. Anyone that knows Kelly understands how much she advocates for animals as part of the therapy process, and how much she has been able to rely on her dog for that sense of unconditional love and support as part of her own healing process.
Much thanks to Cassandra for inviting us for this interview, and to Shaw Spotlight for giving us the opportunity to talk about mental health!