Paola Ardiles, Stephen Smith and the BC Medical Association
Paola Ardiles, Stephen Smith and the BC Medical Association are this year’s recipients of an award named for revered mental health advocate Dr. Nancy Hall, the Dr. Nancy Hall Public Policy Leadership Award. Each year the award recognizes individuals or organizations that have influenced mental health policy.
The three awards were presented on September 21 by Agnes Hall, Dr. Hall’s mother, and Judy Moore, Chair of Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division’s (CMHA BC) Board of Directors, at their 59th Annual General Meeting in Vancouver.
“Like Dr. Nancy Hall, these are the unsung heroes for more complete and equitable mental health and additions care.” said Bev Gutray, CEO of CMHA BC. “Through their ongoing efforts, they are fighting to challenge the way we think about mental health and improve mental health for you, for me, and everyone in BC. CMHA BC is proud to work with and alongside them towards our vision of mentally healthy people in a healthy society.”
The award of distinction was presented to Paola Ardiles, Project Manager in Education and Population Health with BC Mental Health and Addictions Services. Paola has worked throughout her career to promote a shift in the way mental health is conceptualized. She has had impact at local, provincial and national levels. She co-authored Towards Flourishing for All —which was an early contribution to Canada’s first national mental health strategy.
“If we started to look at mental health as more than the absence of illness, we would get that mental health is actually an asset; it is an essential ingredient of living a happy and productive life,” says Ardiles.”Mental health is also something we need to protect and promote as the basis for a sustainable health care system, healthier populations and safe and vibrant communities. In my view, how we create mental health and well-being is by empowering communities to create healthy public policies and supportive environments.”
An award of merit was presented to Stephen Smith, the first-ever Director, Mental Health Promotion & Mental Illness Prevention at the Ministry of Health. Stephen was instrumental in the design and implementation of BC’s Ten-Year-Plan to Address Mental Health and Substance Use. This plan is transformative, cross-governmental, and multi-sector. Stephen’s nominators identified his strong ability to collaborate and work with many groups throughout BC.
The British Columbia Medical Association (BCMA) was presented with an award of merit for their strong leadership in the area of addictions and primary care in a number of ways over the past several years. In 2009, BCMA published a key policy paper titled Stepping Forward, Improving Addiction Care in BC, the key recommendation of which was recognition of addiction as a chronic illness in BC. This work foregrounded collaboration with the Ministry of Health in the development of clinical guidelines for screening, assessment and intervention for problem drinking for physicians. In 2011, BC became the first province to recognize and support the care of problem drinking as a chronic disease in primary care.