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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.

The Parenting and Mental Health Committee

Ruth Hess-Dolgin

Reprinted from "Parenting" issue of Visions Journal, 2004, 2 (2), p. 45

In 1999, a group of staff from across several service sectors in Vancouver came together to form a committee for the purpose of educating themselves and their colleagues around the theme of parenting and mental health. Five years later, working ‘off the side of their desks,’ these dedicated service providers have managed to keep the committee alive and continue to provide relevant educational workshops. (See the article on the next page by Jeri-Lyn Ratzlaff, describing some of the committee’s other activities).

The provision of community-based care for persons affected by mental health problems requires a variety of services and supports. It also requires that service providers from different disciplines deliver these across a range of settings. Some of these professionals fall within what we think of as the mental health system, but many come from other sectors.

Learning opportunities that bring staff together from across these sectors to explore common problems and learning needs are one way to build the safety net for consumers and their families. Through the series of workshops that the Parenting and Mental Health Committee is organizing, Vancouver service providers meet, network and learn together.

As the Parenting Committee has been without a budget, the whole endeavour has cost very little, with most expenditures being of the in-kind variety. For example, BC Women and Children’s Hospital offers space at the Chan Centre for Family Education; the various constituents of Vancouver Coastal Health have provided a number of the workshop presenters. A sampling of some of the workshop topics that have been presented includes understanding mental illness and recovery; bonding and attachment; mental illness in pregnancy and postpartum; supporting children and families with parental mental illness; transparenting; mothers, babies and harm reduction; and parenting youth with psychosis. Upcoming workshops include parenting children with anxiety disorders, and street-entrenched youth.

In addition to the representatives from Vancouver Community Mental Health Services and the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCHA), the Parenting and Mental Health Committee includes members from the Ministry of Children and Family Development, Addiction Services (VCHA), Community Health Services (VCHA), and Reproductive Mental Health (BC Children and Women’s Hospital). Committee membership has changed, but the spirit of cooperation and dedication within the group has remained constant over time.

About the Author

Ruth is a Coordinator at Vancouver Child and Youth Mental Health Services, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority For more information contact Ruth at (604) 708-5276 or [email protected]

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