Join today at www.b4stage4.ca
It has been a busy time at CMHA BC as we finalized preparations for our b4stage4 Conference in Victoria which took place at the end of November.
What started with a trip to Washington DC, a single conversation and an ingenious idea blossomed into an incredible three day conference filled with hope, engagement and a commitment to action. We were joined by healthcare workers, elected officials, community representatives and people with first hand lived experience and those who have family members who have been impacted by mental health problems and or addiction challenges. We were joined by attendees from across Canada and even one joined us from Australia.
We had a vision of a different kind of conference. We searched for policy and other leaders who were change makers and also people with lived experience and this proved to make a tremendous difference to the conference experience. Many shared their own lived experience of mental illness and or an addiction as a result of the openness in the room. It was an unbelievable moving experience for all people in attendance.
Throughout the 3-day event consisting of plenary speakers, panels and lively discussions a general consensus was heard. We can no longer wait. The systems we have in place are too focused on b4stage4 interventions. Too many people continue to access care through Emergency Departments or through the criminal justice system. We wait too long …often years and too often when care is provided it often comes with additional trauma.
We learned together about the evidence-based practices that can support children, youth and families to get the help they need when they first experience signs of struggling with poor mental health. We know what works and the difference it makes when help is provided early. The delegates joined Canadian Mental Health Association BC in its unifying message of a call for an investment by all levels of government in prevention, early identification and early intervention.
This message was reinforced and brought to life in the poignant political sentiments of Rt. Hon. Norman Lamb, the moving personal story of the b4stage4 founder Paul Gionfriddo, the uplifting music of Amelia Curran, and the practical recommendations for healthcare reform provided by Andre Picard.
Mayor of Victoria Lisa Helps, MLAs Linda Reid, Jane Thornthwaite, Sue Hamill and Andrew Wilkinson and Deputy Minister Stephen Brown, among many others infused optimism in the message by demonstrating the dedicated leadership in our provincial government. Together we glimpsed what better mental health could look like and looked around to see the change makers who would bring this distant vision into focus.
We would like to extend our appreciation and thanks to all who attended and supported our conference and acknowledge our sponsors Shoppers Drug Mart, Noodlebox, Great West Life and HSA BC who made it possible.
The delegates who joined us led an inspiring movement towards activating the b4stage4 manifesto and building the momentum of the b4stage4 campaign. Our message of early intervention and prevention was embraced by all in attendance and we are hopeful that together we are well on our way to changing once and for all the way we think about mental health and addiction care in our beautiful province.
But we must not rest on our laurels and we encourage those of you who have not yet signed and endorsed our manifesto to do so at www.b4stage4.ca so that we can continue to lift our collective voices and have them heard.