On 18 February Military Family Services is hosting a group discussion on both the challenges and potential opportunities in the area of mental health and social wellness education for military family members in Canada The aim of this group discussion is to collectively assist MFS to examine both the current strengths and weaknesses of existing mental health and social wellness educational programming that is currently available to military families. In the spirit of the new family panel concept, this meeting will serve as another way to ensure MFS mental health and social wellness programming remains responsive to the needs of military families, and remains coordinated and synchronised with partners who can help inform our work.
The following partner organizations have kindly agreed to participate in this meeting:
a. COPE (Couples Overcoming PTSD Everyday);
b. Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA);
c. Caregiver's Brigade;
d. Dr. Jay's Grief Program;
e. Soldier On;
f. Strongest Families;
g. The Vanier Institute of the Family;
d. Veterans Emergency Transition Services (VETS Canada); and
e. Veterans Affairs Canada.
2. CMHA Webinar
On 25 February Canadian Mental Health Association is hosting a national webinar centred on the theme of military families that will allow MFS HQ to speak to CMHA field staff on the challenges inherent with the military family lifestyle. Particular emphasis will be focussed on how CMHA staff can connect with Military Family Resource Centres (MFRCs) across Canada, and receive programming information that can help address the needs of military family members in their community. LCol Suzanne Bailey will also be participating in the webinar, and will provide information on the mental health services currently available to CAF member. LCol Bailey will also explain the R2MR program and the mental health education currently available for CAF members.
3. Mental Health Week
During Mental Health Week (4 - 8 May), MFS intends to publicly launch the following programs/initiatives:
a. Public Service Announcement promoting mental health resources for military families. Centred on the tag-line "You're Not Alone", this PSA will include military families, CAF service providers (MFS, Chaplain General, CF Health Service Group, and national partners (Canadian Mental Health Association, The Royal) delivering evidence-based mental health factoids that can be easily understood by any audience, and include important contact information, including the Family Force website and Family Information Line. Subject PSAs will be made available to families via internal MFS communication channels (web-site, social media)
b. VAC/MFS Caregiver Program -MFS and VAC are partnering to develop a program to educate family caregivers on the etiology and treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress and other Operational Stress Injuries (OSI), enabling them to best support a family member through the treatment and recovery process as well as to teach the caregiver a practical self-care skillset, enabling caregivers to effectively cope with stressors associated with the caregiver role. The Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health, leading experts in the treatment of OSI and the impact of OSI on families, have been contracted to develop the caregiver content and present it in an online e-learning program. The online program will be available for families of veterans and serving members by May, 2015.
c. Zero-fund memorandum of understanding between MFS and CMHA that potentially promotes/advocates bi-lateral organizational support and/or the sharing of technical competencies and program expertise where feasible and mutually beneficial.
4. Strongest Families Pilot Project
A one-year pilot project is underway with three MFRCs (St. John's, Halifax, Kingston) and the Strongest Families Institute, a psychologically-informed distance education program offering telephone-based parenting interventions to parents of children with behavioral, anxiety, or emotional problems. The program emphasizes early intervention through skill-building for cases of mild to moderate mental health problems.
5.Mental Health Working Group.
MFS has committed to working with MFRCs to develop a short-term strategy to address the increasing mental health challenges facing military families.
David B. Millar
Chief of Military Personnel/Chef du personnel militaire
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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.