Peer to peer support the focus of Halton Suicide Prevention Coalition Annual Meeting

The Halton Suicide Prevention Coalition (HSPC) is a group of community partner organizations, hardworking staff and volunteers who provide local leadership, advocacy and education in the areas of suicide awareness, prevention, intervention and postvention (support for the grieving process after a suicide).

On November 20, the HSPC held its Annual Meeting at the Oakville Conference Centre. The theme of this year’s event, “Speak up, reach out…because every life is worth living,” highlighted the importance of peer-to-peer support in mental health recovery.

Through powerful, deeply personal accounts, keynote speakers, Stéphane Grenier, a 29-year Canadian Military veteran, and Sam Fiorella (thefriendshipbench.org), reinforced the importance of peer-to-peer support, and the need for creating awareness and the de-stigmatization of mental health issues.  The topic of peer-to-peer support was also explored in the safeTALK training that followed the annual meeting, where 30 attendees learned how to identify people with thoughts of suicide and how to connect them to suicide first aid resources.

The Region’s partnership with the HSPC is one of the many ways we are working to ensure that we continue to keep Halton a safe and healthy community. In fact, the Region’s Strategic Action Plan 2015 – 2018 prioritizes the promotion of good mental health in the community and continued advocacy for better access to mental health services.

The Halton Region Health Department provides some excellent mental health programs and services as well as trusted online information and resources on a variety of mental health topics. Through our ongoing support of the North Halton Mental Health Clinic, the North Halton Child and Youth Psychiatry Program, our Mental Health Liaison Nurses, and the great training provided in the safeTALK sessions, more Halton residents have been able to access the local mental health services they need, sooner.

Halton Region is a caring, compassionate community, and the work performed by the HSPC is a great example of the dedicated people and organizations we have here in Halton. We will continue to work together with the HSPC and other organizations in our community to prioritize the promotion of good mental health and ensure that Halton Region remains a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhaltonLinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”