For almost all of its history (55 years!), the Shalem Mental Health Network has offered its services and supports across Ontario. Shalem has always seen itself as a community-based mental health organization dedicated to supporting people and initiatives across the province.
For the past 15 years, Shalem has been working intentionally to develop partnerships between the professional mental health sector and communities. That is our niche in the mental health world (for more on that, see About Us). Each area of our work—the Congregational Assistance Plan (CAP), our attachment psychotherapy and couples psychotherapy work, WrapAround, Restorative Practice, Re-create—can be seen as a “demonstration project” in a new, different relationship between those two sectors.
This experimentation has proven to be so fertile that our work has grown dramatically over the past 10 years, getting the attention and support both of numerous communities and of some of the best practitioners in the field of mental health. In fact, the work has grown so much that we can now legitimately describe Shalem’s services and supports as available across Canada. Shalem has gone national.
Allow me to briefly describe that for you.
As noted in a recent article in Christian Courier about how churches can support mental health, our Congregational Assistance Plan (CAP) is now available across Canada. Currently CAP covers from Ontario through Nova Scotia, thanks in part to a partnership with the Eastern District of the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination. We now have the capacity to offer CAP not just to the East but also to the West, through to British Columbia.
In March 2019, Shalem will conclude several years of training, coaching and development support in WrapAround throughout the province of Manitoba, through Manitoba’s Cabinet-level Healthy Child Manitoba program. Healthy Child Manitoba has embraced our WrapAround approach (through our partnership with Wrap Canada) as an approach that it wishes to implement across all child-serving ministries in Manitoba. This work was begun by Shalem’s late staff member Andrew Debicki. Shalem’s Executive Director, Mark Vander Vennen, has stepped in since Andrew’s untimely death in 2016. After March 2019, Manitoba will have its own certified WrapAround trainers and coaches and will be a self-sustaining WrapAround initiative.
Shalem has also been training and coaching WrapAround with three separate programs in Edmonton, such as Strathcona County Family and Community Services, and with an initiative in Gatineau, Quebec. This is in addition to our WrapAround Hamilton initiative, and to supporting the Chatham-Kent Neighbourlink WrapAround program and the Green Wood Coalition’s WrapAround program in Port Hope, Ontario.
In 2018, Shalem’s FaithCARE (Faith Communities Affirming Restorative Experiences) program offered FaithCARE training in Winnipeg, and will do so in 2019 in both Nova Scotia and British Columbia. FaithCARE supports churches to build healthy relationship cultures in their congregations, including developing the capacity to work through conflict in a way that deepens relationship and allows everyone to move forward.
In addition, Shalem’s Director of Restorative Practice Services, Anne Martin, through our EduCARE program, has recently offered week-long Restorative Practice trainings to Christian school teachers and administrators in the Dominican Republic, Belize and Nicaragua, in a partnership with EduDeo Ministries. Soon Anne will be traveling to Guatemala to provide a week of training there.
Betty Brouwer is one of two certified trainers in Canada in Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP)—a way of working with children and youth who because of significant early abuse or neglect struggle with serious attachment issues, and with their caregivers. DDP was developed by psychologist Dr. Dan Hughes, a friend of Shalem’s, and Betty is the Board Chair of the international Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy Institute. Recently Betty gave a DDP training in British Columbia with a group of people from First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities—with the training held in a building which once housed a residential school. This is in addition to trainings provided in 2018 and 2019 by Betty in Ottawa, Toronto and the Hamilton area.
At Shalem, we feel encouraged and blessed by these extended opportunities to serve not just across Ontario but increasingly across Canada. We celebrate the openings like these that are making the geographic expansion of our work possible. And we thank you for your support that helps to make this happen!
Mark Vander Vennen, MA, M.Ed, R.S.W., is Executive Director of the Shalem Mental Health Network