What a year it’s been since our last newsletter in January! There are many trainings, events and much growth, as you will see from the other articles of this newsletter.
Our activity this year reflected the growing need in our community for mental health services – the demand has never been higher. Angus Reid released numbers earlier this year that show that now 1 in 3 Canadians are reporting mental health symptoms, up from 1 in 5 pre-pandemic. If your work involves mental health, I’m imaging you’ve been noticing this change in your work and personal life as well.
You’ll see from this newsletter various ways Shalem continues to be a resource in responding to the mental health needs in our community – from our direct mental health work at our counselling center in Hamilton to our other community-based programing. I can attest that staff, volunteers, board members and students have all demonstrated incredible commitment to our vision for bringing hope and healing to our community during this very challenging chapter.
In September, our staff gathered for our monthly meeting in person, and we noted how healing it is to be working alongside each other again. We were able to offer support and care to each other in ways that were difficult to do virtually during the pandemic. It reminded me of how much our wider community is longing for those deep connections again, and in some cases, struggling to reconnect. This re-enforces how crucial our services are for so many who are needing mental health care or relationship support.
This October, our staff and board gathered at Crieff Hills to reflect together on Shalem’s past, present and future, visioning together where and how God is calling us to serve our community, and creating our next Strategic Plan. It involved discussions about meeting community demand, creative growth in programming, and sustainability – both with our budget and with our own staff health and wellness.
With so much demanding your attention this fall, thank you for taking the time to read our updates. If you are a member of our network – thank you for all you do! I continue to be reminded of how Shalem’s impact is directly related to the strength and quality of the wonderful people in our Shalem network. If you are a supporter, please accept our deep thanks. We strive to do justice to your financial gift, as it enables us to serve our community. Your choice to support us confirms that we’re doing important work. You are part of our mission, as we push forward to bring hope and connection to those struggling in our midst.
Peace to you –
Jennifer Bowen, M.Div., RMFT, RP, is the Executive Director of Shalem Mental Health Network.