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Getting Help

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Some people worry about asking for help because there can be stigma around mental health problems. They may believe that asking for help means admitting that something is wrong. Some people worry about how others might see them. Asking for help means that you want to make changes or take steps towards your new health goals. We should celebrate the courage it takes to speak up and make changes. Getting help is part of recovery.

Recovery can mean many different things. Some people see recovery as going back to their daily life before signs of a health problem. Other people see recovery as learning to live well, contributing to a community, and building relationships despite the challenge of a health problem. Recovery is a process or journey rather than a single end goal. A support team can help you on your way, no one should ever have to follow their journey entirely on their own. A team of carers and supports can guide you, provide help and assistance, celebrate your victories, and back you up when you need it.

Building your team

The first steps may be the toughest, but knowing where to look for help is a good start. Here are good places to begin building your team:

  • Talk with supportive friends and family. Share your feelings with them and let them be part of your team.
  • Talk to your family doctor. They are a great resource and can link you to other professionals, if needed.
  • Connect with community mental health clinics or organizations like the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) for information, support, and services.
  • Call a help line. Some organizations also offer support online or through text messaging.
  • Learn more about mental health. You can find useful books, websites, and other resources through your provincial or territorial government and community agencies.
  • Connect with others who have personal experience with a mental illness and learn more about their recovery journey.
  • Attend workshops and education sessions hosted at community centres, agencies, schools, colleges or universities.
  • Talk with a member or leader you trust from your faith or cultural group.

Members of the team

The exact people on your support team will depend on your situation and your goals, but most teams include some combination of the following people.

Family doctor

Your family doctor will assess your needs, rule out other causes, work with you to plan a course of action, support you in selecting other team members, and monitor progress. Some service providers, like psychiatrists, can only be accessed through a family doctor. This process is called a referral.

Psychiatrist

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor with a specialty in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses. They can prescribe medication and use counselling to support recovery. You usually need a referral from your family doctor to see a psychiatrist. Psychiatrists, fees are covered by provincial and territorial health plans.

Psychologist

Psychologists are trained to assess, diagnose and treat mental health problems and disorders. They hold a masters or doctoral degree in psychology and usually within a specific specialty area or areas like clinical psychology or clinical neuropsychology. A psychologist cannot prescribe medications. Their expertise includes psychological testing and assessment of emotional and cognitive functions, the diagnosis of emotional and cognitive disorders and the use of evidence-based psychological treatments and psychotherapies. When a psychologist is employed by a public institution like a hospital, school or correctional facility, their services are covered by the public health system. When a psychologist practices in the community, however, their services are typically not covered by public health insurance plans. However, they are usually covered by an extended health insurance plan you may have through work. You can make an appointment with a psychologist in the community on your own without a doctor’s referral. To find a psychologists in your area go to www.cpa.ca/public/findingapsychologist.

Counsellors

Registered or certified counsellors (such as a Registered Professional Counsellor or Registered Clinical Counsellor) are trained to assess mental health problems and use different counselling or other methods. This often includes teaching different skills to help improve well-being. Counsellors are not medical doctors and can’t prescribe medications. You can make an appointment with a counsellor on your own, you don’t need a doctor’s referral. A counsellor’s fees are not covered under all provincial or territorial health plans. Ask your private insurance company or workplace benefits provider if they cover services provided by a counsellor.

Psychologist and Counsellor

Psychologists and registered or certified counsellors (such as a Registered Professional Counsellor or Registered Clinical Counsellor) are trained to assess mental health problems and use different counselling or other methods. This often includes teaching different skills to help improve well-being. Psychologists and counsellors are not medical doctors and can’t prescribe medications. Provinces have laws that regulate the standard of care that psychologists offer. Counsellors may choose to join a professional organization with its own standards of care, though these groups are not regulated by laws in all provinces. You can make an appointment with a psychologist or counsellor on your own. Fees are not covered under all provincial or territorial health plans, so ask your insurance or benefits provider if they cover the costs.

Other mental health professionals

There are many different mental health professionals who can assist you with your recovery process and support your goals. If you’re seeing a care provider, they may suggest that you team up with other mental health professionals such as a nurse, social worker, or occupational therapist. You may also be able to access these professionals privately. Some fees may not be covered by your provincial or territorial health plan, so ask about costs and coverage when you make your appointments.

Community health organizations

Community mental health organizations, such as the Canadian Mental Health Association, can help you find resources and offer many different programs that may also be of benefit to you. To find a CMHA branch in your community, visit our website at www.cmha.ca.

Support groups and peer supporters

Support groups are a safe place to share your experiences, learn from others, and connect with people who understand what you’re going through. Some support groups are formal groups led by a mental health professional, while others are more casual groups of peers. You can find support groups through members of your support team and through community health organizations.

Peer supporters are trained to provide support and understanding, help people navigate the mental health system, link people with community services, and support work towards personal goals. Peer supporters are people who have experiences of mental illness or support a loved one.

Other community services

Sometimes, we need extra help with day-to-day activities like housekeeping, meal preparation, driving to appointments or filling out forms for housing or income support. Community organizations can offer different kinds of practical support, such as meal delivery, transportation, home care, and advocacy. You can find these services through members of your support team, community organizations, and your provincial or territorial health services network. Some services have fees and some services are based on certain criteria. If you aren’t sure who to call, contact your local CMHA branch to find services in your area.

How can I help a loved one?

Loved ones can play an important role in helping someone choose the best options for their situation. You can offer both emotional support and a lot of important practical help, like scheduling appointments or finding services. You can also be key in helping monitor early changes in a loved one’s well-being, including both setbacks and improvements.

It’s important to respect your loved one’s wishes, even if you don’t agree with their choices. Forcing someone to choose a particular treatment or service provider can damage relationships and make things harder for everyone. If a loved one is an adult, they have the right to choose their own care and the right to privacy in most situations. Be aware that, in most cases, service providers have a legal obligation to protect personal treatment information. However, your loved one can let their care team share some or all of the information with you.

If you are supporting a loved one, you may also find some services helpful for you. There are support groups to help loved ones cope with challenges and connect with others, and community services like home care can offer a lot of practical help at home.

Do you need more help?

Contact a community organization like the Canadian Mental Health Association to learn more about support and resources in your area.

Founded in 1918, The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is a national charity that helps maintain and improve mental health for all Canadians. As the nation-wide leader and champion for mental health, CMHA helps people access the community resources they need to build resilience and support recovery from mental illness.

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Sheryl Wedderburn

Courtice, Ontario – Chief Executive Officer/Officer of the Board

Sheryl Wedderburn is the Chief Executive Officer at the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Durham. Since her appointment in 2021 she has led the organization through innovative key milestones. The transformation and modernization of housing programs for people with serious mental illness; attaining Accreditation with exemplary standing and raising the profile of the organization within the mental health and addictions sector by co-partnering with lead service providers to support an integrated care model for people living with Schizophrenia. Sheryl has a proven track record in removing barriers between providers and designing client-centred systems while championing the expansion of the traditional catchment areas moving towards equitable access to care. The former CEO and Principal Consultant for Bernard Consultancy, Sheryl has worked dutifully with Chief Executive Officers and Chief Operating Officers, inspiring them to cultivate inventive strategic plans, conducting quality-driven operational reviews and advancing the development, mentorship and successioning of their leadership teams. As a seasoned Governor, Sheryl has served on various Boards since 1986, from hospital sector to community. In addition to her role as Officer of the esteemed CMHA Durham Board of Directors, she serves on the Board of the Alzheimer Society Durham Region, where she advocates for enhanced services to meet the growing diverse needs of people living with Alzheimer and associated dementias. She is the Founding President for JCAN, a registered not-for-profit charity serving the Afro-Caribbean population. A life-long learner, Sheryl holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Health Sciences and Certified Health Executive designation from the Canadian College of Health Leaders. Past cross-appointments include Adjunct Faculty for the Nursing Degree Program at University of Toronto and Ontario Tech University.

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Kerrie Wriker

Colborne, Ontario – Chief Operating Officer/Board Secretary

Kerrie has over 20 years of experience working in the community-based mental health and addictions sector and has held various leadership roles throughout her career. She attained formal education in Recreation and Leadership (Ontario Tech University), Professional Management (York University), and Harm Reduction. She is also a Green Belt in leading process improvement methodology Lean Six Sigma and holds a Change Management Practitioner certification. In her current role as CMHA Durham’s Chief Operating Officer, she effectively fulfills layered reporting obligations to numerous levels of government and ensures all services are integrated, planned, delivered, and evaluated in accordance with professional standards.
As a caregiver to a loved one with a severe mental disorder, Kerrie is a firm believer that connected and caring communities promote wellness. To that end, Kerrie volunteers as a panel member with the Ontario Caregiver Organization, member of an Advisory Board within her township, and is a Board Trustee with CMHA National Pension Plan in addition to her work with CMHA Durham.

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Sarah Moore

Ajax, Ontario – Board Member

Sarah is an accessibility advocate with a passion for cultivating inclusion, standing up to stigma, and breaking down barriers alongside people with visible and invisible disabilities. She is an Accredited Municipal Professional with more than 15 years of local government experience. Her portfolio includes specialties in public administration, accessibility compliance, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), as well as volunteer management. Sarah is an Honours graduate of the University of Toronto and obtained a certificate in Accessibility Practices from Toronto Metropolitan University. With both a personal and professional connection to mental health, supporting family members, friends, and colleagues with mood disorders, Sarah is eager to contribute to the promotion and enhancement of positive mental health within the Region as a member of the CMHA Durham Board of Directors. Outside of work, Sarah’s hobbies and interests include film, language studies (French and Spanish), baking, and spoiling Riley, her Shih-Tzu.

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Nicole Seymour

Whitby, Ontario – Board Member

Nicole Seymour is currently the Chief Regulatory and Compliance Officer for a global property and casualty insurance organization. She has over 20 years of regulatory compliance experience in the insurance and financial industries and has held Chief Compliance Roles at insurers, mutual fund dealers, and life insurance MGAs. Throughout her career, Nicole has implemented successful compliance and regulatory risk management programs at multiple institutions. Continuously committed to her professional development, she holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Waterloo and has recently completed the Cambridge Business Sustainability Management Certificate and the Certificate in Regulatory Compliance and Legal Risk Management for Financial Institutions from Osgoode Hall. Nicole lives in Whitby with her husband and four children. She enjoys traveling and being a hockey/soccer mom.

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Katie Cosway

Courtice, Ontario – Board Member

Over the past 15 years, Katie has dedicated her career to guiding organizations to build strong cultures that create inclusive and successful business outcomes. After completing her Honours BA at McMaster University and a post-graduate certificate in Human Resources at Durham College, Katie spent 10 years in organizational and career management consulting, delivering services across North America. She later took on a leadership role within the energy sector, where she focused on learning and development to support the growing demands of that industry. A certified Change Management Practitioner and Human Resources Leader (CHRL), Katie also has experience serving on a non-profit board within the financial sector and brings a governance/policy strength that has resulted in increased performance of the teams and projects she’s worked on. Growing up in Durham Region, and currently residing in Courtice with her family, Katie has a deep appreciation for community services such as the ones provided by CMHA Durham.

Jason Langley

Clarington, Ontario – Board Member

Jason is a Senior Strategy & Innovation leader at a large North American financial institution. With a cross border mandate, Jason has built a brand rooted in strategic thought leadership and has a track record of driving multi-dimensional transformation focused on growth and the customer experience. Jason is passionate about coaching and developing future leaders and is a staunch advocate for mental health in both his professional and personal life. He holds both an MBA and Certificate in Responsible Leadership from Queen’s University, a Bachelor of Commerce from Ontario Tech University, and is a Certified Change Management Practitioner. Having grown up in Oshawa, Jason now lives in Clarington with his wife and daughter. In his spare time, he enjoys being outdoors and is an avid fisherman.

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Duncan Kerr

Brooklin, Ontario – Board Member

Duncan Kerr is an experienced executive currently serving as the Director of Sustainability and Training with Toronto Hydro. He is responsible for developing and managing short- and long-term sustainability, training, and workforce skills development strategies, as well as directing and managing the organization’s sustainability and training systems, processes, and programs. Duncan also drives change in the pursuit of compliance and continual improvement of environment, social, and governance (ESG).  Prior to Toronto Hydro, Duncan held professional and leadership roles in both health and safety and operations at General Motors in Canada, the United States, and Australia. His impact is supported by a diverse education, including a Bachelor of Kinesiology from McMaster University, a Master of Science in Biomechanics from the University of Guelph, and a Master of Business Administration from Wayne State University.  He is also a Canadian Registered Safety Professional (CRSP) and an Environmental Professional (EP). Duncan has lived in Brooklin for the last 15 years, with his wife of over 20 years and their two sons.

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Elizabeth McSavaney

Pickering, Ontario – Board Member

Elizabeth is currently a Human Resources (HR) Executive for a leading global insurance organization.  Elizabeth has obtained her Canadian Human Resources Leader (CHRL) designation and carries a certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution from the University of Windsor. Over the course of her career, she has led teams in both the private and public sectors across North America.  She has driven complex transformational change projects in corporate and manufacturing environments and has worked in a variety of HR disciplines. In addition to her HR qualifications, Elizabeth has served as a professor at Algonquin College’s School of Business. Beyond work, Elizabeth is a passionate health advocate, with a Bachelor of Science (Honors) in Human Kinetics from the University of Ottawa. She keenly understands the value that focused strategies can bring to the health outcomes of individuals, organizations, and the broader community. When Elizabeth is not at work she enjoys CrossFit, running, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.

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Earlene Worrall

Blackstock, Ontario – Board Member

Earlene seeks to leverage her knowledge and skills in ways that make a meaningful difference for others, both professionally and personally. With expertise in brand-building, marketing, and strategy, she has spent the last fourteen years working with healthcare clients in a trusted advisor role to help them tackle their toughest strategic challenges. As a Partner with Ipsos Healthcare Advisory, Earlene deeply understands the underlying drivers of behaviour, uncovers the insights that matter, and unfailingly pulls through to actionable strategy – ultimately helping to improve the lived experience of patients, their loved ones, and the healthcare providers who treat them. Earlene is equally committed to contributing to her community. Her volunteer roles over the past two decades have spanned her interests in the environment, the arts, social services, and healthcare. Earlene holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Queen’s University. She and her husband live in Blackstock.

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Melissa Beaucaire

Oshawa, Ontario – Board Member

Melissa has a rich background in the non-profit sector with more than 25 years of experience. Tapping into her formal education in Sociology (BA, University of Ottawa) and Early Childhood Education (Honours Diploma, Algonquin College), she is currently a Manager for Children’s Services in the Durham Region. Melissa has also previously served on the board of non-profit organizations as secretary and treasurer. A lifelong learner, Melissa has prioritized her professional development in the areas of mental health, diversity, special needs, addiction, management, and leadership. She recognizes the importance of the work that CMHA Durham does to provide services for the community and those living with mental health challenges, and she is honoured to support the mission. Besides Melissa’s personal and professional pursuits, family is integral to her life. Melissa and her family are long-time residents of the Durham Region. 

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Jim Hunt

Nestleton, Ontario – Board Member

Jim Hunt is a retired management professional, whose career touched many essential business operations, from manufacturing to customer satisfaction. He is an outside-the-box thinker with a Mathematics degree from the University of Waterloo (whose handbook he co-authored). An effective problem solver, Jim was one of a few people in North America to successfully manage the implementation of operation scheduling software. Jim also served on the boards and advisory committees of several noteworthy organizations, including Sir Sandford Fleming College and the Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario, where he was a board member for nine years. Jim’s investment in accessible and effective mental health care is inspired by the experiences of his loved ones who live with mental disorders. As a resident of Scugog, Jim’s work with CMHA Durham is a testament to his commitment to ensuring care is available to those in his community who need it most.

Dave Wheeler

Whitby, Ontario – Board Chair

Dave Wheeler is a passionate advocate for mental health, and a trusted advisor to CMHA Durham. He has brought his empathetic and effective approach to professional and organizational advancement to roles at several notable companies, including his current position as senior manager of sales and operations at one of Canada’s leading financial institutions. Dave’s expertise is backed by a Master of Business Administration from Queens University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from York University. As CMHA Durham Board Chair, Dave effectively develops strong relationships with stakeholders, while ensuring the appropriate processes are in place to monitor and measure the organization’s performance and efficacy outcomes. Beyond his professional endeavours, Dave enjoys travelling, golf, hockey, baseball, running, and coaching sports.

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Preya Singh-Cushnie

Ajax, Ontario – Board Member

Preya Singh-Cushnie is deeply committed to making a positive impact and has accumulated more than 23 years of leadership experience across various financial services organizations, from global giants to mid-sized firms, both internationally and domestically. She currently holds a senior leadership role at the Ontario Medical Association, overseeing the insurance division serving 45,000 physicians in Ontario and Atlantic Canada. In addition to her insurance responsibilities, Preya actively supports the association’s advocacy efforts, contributing to physician and patient care initiatives.

Preya approaches leadership with a focus on empathy, transparency, and a clear sense of purpose. She has a knack for facilitating positive changes by collaborating effectively with internal and external partners, committees, and the OMA Insurance Board to advance the organization’s programs and advocacy work. Preya is also a Licensed Life Insurance Agent and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from York University.

Her dedication extends to promoting Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, with a special focus on supporting mental wellness initiatives. This commitment has led her to serve as a Director and Treasurer for CMHA Durham. Before her involvement with CMHA Durham, Preya spent four years as a member and Vice Chair of the Town of Ajax Diversity and Community Engagement Committee.