This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Windsor-Essex County Branch. CMHA Windsor-Essex is a lead provider and advocate of community mental health and addiction services with over 20 specialized programs and 160 staff members.
To celebrate this milestone achievement, current executives and former board members are featured in a video sharing how far mental health and the organization have come in the last five decades.
In 1971, the CMHA Windsor-Essex Branch was created when a group of concerned citizens gathered together to address those in the community struggling with mental health and substance issues. A strong need for local mental health care and support services became fully realized.
Group homes were set up to care for people with severe mental health issues, assisting them in taking medications and helping them reenter the community, and advocacy programs were established. CMHA Windsor-Essex also set up one of the first integrated primary care clinics run by a nurse practitioner.
Greg Monforton, a founding board member of the organization, stated that being on the board was an educational experience. “I learned a great deal not only about the magnitude of the challenges faced by those suffering from mental illness but it was really inspiring quite frankly to witness the dedication, expertise and professionalism of the various members of this board.”
Although mental health has significantly evolved over the years and more people are comfortable talking about it, there is still stigma attached to mental illness. This stigma can prevent:
- People from getting the help they need
- Family members from supporting and admitting that a loved one has a mental health issue
- Overall funding and community support
CMHA Windsor-Essex continues to be a tremendous resource for the community working alongside other collaborators to bring a stronger system of mental health and substance use care.
“One of the things that I’ve always admired about the organization is its purpose is to help people achieve well-being”, said Monforton. “If you change a life, you change the world. CMHA has changed a lot of lives.”