The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

As the province announces new funding for mental-health initiatives ($180 million in new mental-health and addiction programs were introduced between 2011 and 2016), and promises earlier this year by the Wynne government to spend $2.1 billion to rebuild the framework of a system described as being “in crisis”, we thought we would check in with the local branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association to see how it is faring.

Champlain East CMHA Executive Director Joanne Ledoux-Moshonas says the organization is hoping for a nine per cent increase for its budget for the coming year. The organization has an annual budget of about $3.7 million, she said, with about 94 per cent of that coming from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Some of the organization’s funds come from fundraising and donations, though. For the 12 months ending on March 31, 2017, donations accounted for $188,148.

Ledoux-Moshonas describes the organization as a volunteer-based organization which provides various services and support to those seeking services or help related to mental health issues. Nationally, the organization has 11,000 volunteers. There are 30 CMHA branches in Ontario.

The organization aims to facilitate access to resources, build resilience and help people on the path to recovery.

The local organization was founded in 1971, and today, it includes Cornwall, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry and Prescott-Russell in its expanded version. Services have been offered by the CMHA in Prescott-Russell, having been developed between 1993 and 1996.

So what exactly does the CMHA do? In place for people 16 years of age and older, the CMHA assists those with severe and persistent mental disorders, which can include substance abuse. The CMHA helps people gain access to the mental health support systems in place but also offers some services of its own. People can self-refer, or family members can also contact the CMHA for help.

“The person has to be willing to seek help,” says Ledoux-Moshonas. “We would go through a triage and determine how to best help.”

The CMHA provides community support, help during recovery and education and can help people set short-term or longer-term goals.

Intensive case management is where the CMHA comes in. Ledoux-Moshonas says the CMHA can also be involved in diverting people with mental health disorders from the court system, particularly in the case of first-time offenders.

If an offense is the result of poor judgement, or is connected to the symptoms of the illness and a person is facing a charge, the CMHA can get them the help they need.

Ledoux-Moshonas pointed out that the CMHA has service agreements with police organizations and protocols are in place to help those who need it connect with the CMHA.

The CMHA also offers supportive housing environments and housing supplements, made possible through the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.

There are also support services in place for the families of those with mental health disorders. The Family Recovery Action Plan offers understanding, support and strategies to assist those who are caring for a family member facing a mental health challenge.

If mental health issues have left people feeling isolated, the CMHA also offers three centres, which are a recreational resource for those who may have the isolation that can result, for example from chronic depression. The Starbright Centre in Cornwall, the Horizon Centre in Casselman and the Oasis Centre in Hawkesbury are options for people who want to socialize and feel less alone.

There is a lot of information available here on the CMHA website.

While all of the resources offered by the CMHA are funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care through the Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), mental health promotion is not funded and for this, the CMHA is grateful for support from the United Way. The CMHA is involved with the Bell Let’s Talk program, a suicide prevention campaign held in September and other fundraising events, like fundraising golf tournaments, such as the Subway Brunet Golf Tournament coming up July 6 , 2018. The tournament will take place on Friday, July 6, 2018, at the Nation Golf Course in Curran. This event is for community education with a focus on youth and issues related to mental health disorders and suicide prevention and community resources in Prescott-Russell.  Since its inception, this event has raised $505,000.

Another fundraiser is the Sylvain Lafleur Invitational Golf Tournament, which takes place in September.

Ledoux-Moshonas says there has been talk of more funding for mental health promotion.

As a non-profit organization, the CMHA appreciates donations, which can be made on the landing page of its website. And it is always in need of volunteers and welcomes fundraising.

At the end of the day, the CMHA’s primary focus is prevention, building resiliency and creating healthy communities.

A program called, “Bounce BAck” is for people ages 15 and up and it is free for all Ontarians with a valid health card. Ledoux-Moshonas describes it as a self-help program, with coaches to help, for people who are experiencing low moods, depression, or anxiety. It’s a way to connect with individuals who are referred from a General Practitioner (GP) or nurse-practitioner. The program ensures that people are connected to a professional, but the program can be a great resource if someone is waiting to be seen by a clinician.  There is no wait time for this program, which is being spearheaded by the CMHA York/Simcoe branch.

The CMHA main office is located at 329 Pitt Street in Cornwall. Call (613) 933-5845 or 1-800-493-8271. The Hawkesbury office is located at:

444 McGill Street Suite 003 in Hawkesbury. Call 613-938-0435 or 1-800-493-8271.