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Visions Journal

A reminder that this article from our magazine Visions was published more than 1 year ago. It is here for reference only. Some information in it may no longer be current. It also represents the point of the view of the author only. See the author box at the bottom of the article for more about the contributor.

A partnership program for families

Reprinted from "Parenting" issue of Visions Journal, 2004, 2 (2), p. 36

The Lasting Impressions program is a partnership program between the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Calgary Region and Hull Child and Family Services. The program is designed to strengthen and support families impacted by a parent with mental illness and was formed to meet consumer needs within the city of Calgary – especially in relation to child care and custody issues. One of Lasting Impressions’ main objectives, therefore, is to help maintain the family unit and prevent family breakdown.

Towards this end, one of the services offered is trained, in-home ‘family mentors’ provided by Hull Child and Family Services. Family mentors provide support services, focusing on educating, connecting families with resources, and enhancing family functioning. The family mentor works with all members of the family to establish and attain goals, ensure that needs of the children are sufficiently met, educate the family about mental illness and its effects on family members, and assist in connecting individuals with appropriate community resources.

In addition, the program offers opportunities for family members to connect with one another within a safe community environment. This community portion of the program is provided by CMHA and consists of family network events, youth and teen peer-support groups, a monthly newsletter (RISK), information sessions and educational opportunities, as well as the various resources available for distribution.

As part of resource distribution, CMHA currently supplies books on mental illness for families and teachers. Three of the books available are:

This book was written by a group of children whose parents have mental illnesses. They wanted to share their experiences with others their age: their fears, their joys, their disappointments and their dreams.

Mental illness can be confusing and frightening for children. The fears children commonly express are addressed in this colourful book, designed to open the door to discussion. Parents are encouraged to go through each topic with their kids.

The Canadian Psychiatric Association recently recognized the book as the recipient of their Mental Illness Awareness Week Special Recognition Award..................................................Price: $5

This workbook was developed as a companion piece to the children’s book and offers activities and questions to promote individual and family reflection. It helps families talk about some of the challenges and issues they face and promotes healing, understanding and growth. Talking about mental illness openly can be difficult, but it is very important to do. When family members are given the opportunity to share in healthy ways, healing and growth can begin..................... Price: $5

The purpose of this guide is to increase understanding about the impact on children and youth of living with a parent who has a mental illness. Teachers can be an important alternative role model for children when parenting may be inconsistent or lacking; especially since it is known that a stable, safe environment outside the home can be enough to protect a child from future emotional problems. The guide outlines recommendations to help teachers and other significant adults be a positive influence on the well-being of affected children. ...................................................FREE

  1. Kids Speak Up:
    Shining Light on Mental Illness

  2. Families Speak Up:
    Shining Light on Mental Illness

  3. A Teacher’s Guide to Helping Children of Parents with a Mental Illness

To order, contact Minna Havula at (403) 297-1726, or via email at [email protected]


For more information about the Lasting Impressions program you can visit or
Program parnters: Alberta Mental Health Board, Canadian Mental Health Association, and Hull Child and Family Services
Funding Partners: Alberta Mental Health Board, Calgary-Rockyview Child and Family Services and the United Way

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