On Saturday, Oct. 28, the Fort Frances branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association was honoured with the Accessibility Award during the 11th-annual Chamber of Commerce business awards.
This is a truly exciting award for us.
Accessibility to a mental health organization means so much more than bricks and mortar. It is more than physical accessibility to a building.
There are many kinds of brick walls (literally and figuratively) that are built up around people with mental illness that makes those services inaccessible.
On a very basic level, some of these “brick walls” or stigmas can, as a result of fear or misunderstanding, result in people not getting service in a store or restaurant, being ignored or ridiculed, or not being validated as a real person.
Accessibility includes opportunities to learn, work, play, and otherwise participate in society.
It includes being involved in meaningful and rewarding relationships, and having safe, adequate, and affordable housing. It includes being able to contribute to the community through meaningful employment and volunteer opportunities.
CMHA is dedicated to breaking down those barriers to make the services more available to people with mental illnesses in our community.
The Canadian Mental Health Association has priorized advocacy/educational efforts to reduce some of the barriers that exist. The Fort Frances Times has been tremendously supportive of our efforts through continuing to publish the articles that have been submitted from CMHA.
This type of support has assisted us to reach many people in the community, and to provide education and resource information to them.
The Canadian Mental Health Association thanks all of the committee members who voted for us to win this award, the individual who nominated us, and the people of our community who support our work, programs, and efforts.
We especially wish to thank the many people who live with mental illness for educating us and helping us to strive to make society a more accessible place to live for all.
Nancy L. Daley,