CMHA coaches helping Canadians bounce back to reclaim their mental health
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Bell Let’s Talk announced donations totaling $5 million to five Canadian organizations on the frontlines of providing care and supports to youth and families. Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) received a $1 million donation to expand the BounceBack® program to residents of the Atlantic provinces, Québec, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Yukon, and for further expansion of the program in Manitoba. We connected with Carmela Smythe, a BounceBack® team lead and coach who has been proudly working for CMHA since 2004.
How long have you been a BounceBack coach and how do you support Canadians through this program?
I’ve been a coach for BounceBack since the program first launched in 2012 in British Columbia, and as a coach I help connect and support people over the phone and online with excellent, evidence-based tools and strategies for better managing and improving their mood.
Who is reaching out for support and what have your clients said about the program?
I have worked with many folks from all sorts of backgrounds! Teachers, health care professionals, students and retirees. Many people that are feeling stressed, run down, or overwhelmed and are looking for ideas and information to help them gain traction with simple changes that can help them feel better and in control of their mood. I have had participants express how pleased they are with the materials and the support they get in using them. They are often surprised at what a positive difference learning some simple skills has had on their mental health. Many people feel more confident in their ability to manage their symptoms of low mood, anxiety or depression, and gain greater self-awareness and understanding of the things they can do to feel better and to maintain their mental health.
How are you seeing BounceBack support Canadians with their mental health, particularly during COVID-19?
It’s been so valuable for folks to have a sense of control over things, when there are so many things happening during COVID-19 that are out of our control.
BounceBack has helped many formulate plans to focus on what’s doable for them, and I feel that’s really helped folks find ways they can reduce stress and take care of themselves during these uncertain times.
BounceBack is phone-based, with materials easily accessible by mail or online, so it’s easy to access while adhering to social distancing rules and recommendations. And people can self-refer online by simply providing their doctor’s information. There is no cost to the program or its materials for participants, so it’s an easily accessible, useful resource both during and outside of pandemic times!
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I love when people really connect with the information and the lightbulb goes on for them. Knowing how well the tools work and hearing that participants have put them to use and noticed improvements and positive changes from implementing them is so rewarding!
How can Canadians access the program and what would you say to someone who is considering getting help?
The program can be accessed by anyone in Canada by visiting cmha.ca/bounceback and entering their province or territory. After they register online, they’ll be connected to coaching support from someone who can answer questions about the materials, and lend a hand with making plans to put some of the tools and strategies they’ve learned into action. It can be really beneficial for people to have that human contact for a bit of support and accountability – especially under current circumstances!
If anyone is considering getting help, I’d really encourage learning more about BounceBack on the website, or reaching out to their doctor or health care professional to discuss options and resources. There are many things out there that folks may find useful and effective, and your doctor or health care professional can help you find a good fit for whatever can be most helpful for you! There is help, there is hope and you can feel better!
Thank you to Carmela and all BounceBack coaches supporting Canadians through this innovative program.
May 3 to 9 marks CMHA’s 70th annual Mental Health Week. To learn more, download resources or to get involved, visit mentalhealthweek.ca