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The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is one of the oldest national, charitable organizations in Canada and the oldest national mental health charity. Each year, CMHA divisions and branches across Canada provide service to more than 100,000 Canadians through the combined efforts of more than 10,000 volunteers and staff in locally run organizations in more than 135 communities. Visit CMHA National‘s website for more information.
CMHA was founded in 1918 by Dr. Clarence M. Hincks, Dr. Charles K. Clarke, and Clifford W. Beers as the Canadian National Committee for Mental Hygiene. The original goals of the organization centred around war recruits, mental examination of post-war immigrants, prevention, and support for adequate facilities and care for the treatment of mental illness.
Dr. Hincks became director of the association in 1924. He developed an interest in patients whose work and productive lives were hampered by what was then seen as malfunctions of the mind. He suffered from periodic bouts of depression all his life, so his empathy toward his fellow sufferers, coupled with a profound knowledge of medicine and early twentieth-century psychological developments in Europe revolutionized the conditions and treatment of mental health patients in Canada. He named the injustice and the inaction, and he set us on a course. It is a course with ups and downs. A century of moments to be proud of, and moments to reflect on and move past. Taken together, these moments chart the course of community mental health in Canada. One hundred years later, we arrive at today’s CMHA.
CMHA is uniquely positioned in Canada as a charity that brings together community-based experience and expertise on the prevention of mental illness, and community support for the mental well-being of all Canadians. We are not only unique in our mental health promotion approach but also in our ability to speak to issues spanning the broad range of mental disorders and the full spectrum of those affected, from those at risk, to those newly diagnosed, to those who have been living with a psychiatric disability over the longer-term, as well as family, friends, and community gatekeepers.
Vancouver-Fraser Branch, founded on April 1, 2015 as a result of the amalgamation of the Vancouver-Burnaby, Simon Fraser, and Delta Branches of CMHA, has been serving Metro Vancouver since 1958. The Branch specializes in 1) supporting adults to reintegrate into their community and employment while recovering from severe mental illness; 2) supporting children and youth to develop skills and knowledge to reduce their risk of a mental illness later in life while improving their mental wellness now; 3) providing training to employees in other workplaces to improve their mental wellness, support their work with people who may be experiencing a mental health crisis and reduce the stigma related to mental illness; and 4) offering programming that helps all people to live more mentally healthy lives. As evidenced by our accreditation with the Council on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), the Branch is committed to continuous quality improvement and evidence-based practice. As part of this commitment we regularly participate in research to evaluate the effectiveness of community-based mental health programming.
The organization has many identified strengths which include: