TRURO – A new building campaign has received a major boost from a local entity.
The Colchester East Hants branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) recently saw a $350,000 commitment (over three years) from the Community Credit Union.
“I had heard some rumblings, but didn’t know how much it would be until it was just announced,” said Susan Henderson, executive director of the CMHA branch. “I’m completely blown away. It’s a fantastic testament to the community how much this building is needed.”
Darrell Kuhn, president and CEO of the Community Credit Union of Cumberland Colchester Ltd., said the decision to support the building was an easy one to make.
“Mental health is a societal issue that’s huge,” he said. “As an organization, we didn’t know how huge until we heard from Andrew (Lake, of the board of directors) and we started to do our own research. We knew we had to be a part of it.”
Kuhn made the announcement during the official building campaign launch, where Lake spoke about his own familial experience – his mother suffered from depression and it robbed him and his family of a mother then and after her passing.
“With mental health, unless you suffer from it yourself, it’s hard to relate,” he said, adding his mother attempted suicide several times and was admitted to the hospital on various occasions.
“When she was released from hospital, she was unprepared,” he said. “It was a vicious cycle.”
Before his mother’s passing, Lake had no connection to the CMHA, however that changed.
“When it comes to the new CMHA building, my vision is to take a page out of the playbook of the new library. My wish is it will offer the same inviting atmosphere as the new library and it will offer strength and comfort when a client walks through those doors.”
The new building – which is the old Bargain Shop on Prince Street in downtown Truro – will offer more than 10,000 square feet for the CMHA and its clients, with an additional 3,100 square feet for future use. The current location is less than 800 square feet, which Henderson said they’ve outgrown, and doesn’t have all their programs or services under the same roof.
“On our busiest day – Wednesday – we support 70 clients throughout the day in all our programs and support services,” she said.
At a cost of $1.5 million, the contribution from the Community Credit Union has put a dent in the fundraising, and there are many ways the community can also contribute. With Kuhn’s announcement, he said the Community Credit Union will also have a “dedicated storefront” in the downtown boutique portion of the new facility.
TJ Smith, a coach with the Truro Jr. A Bearcats hockey team, also addressed the crowd gathered for the campaign launch, speaking on his own experiences.
It was January 2016 when Smith was living in Yarmouth and diagnosed with major depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder.
“A few weeks before, I almost killed myself,” he said. “This reinforces the importance of a resource such as the CMHA.”
Smith was admitted to a psychiatric unit in Yarmouth, and when he was released, said he was left on his own.
“I hate to say it was that way, but it was. The CMHA is a sign of hope.”
He said many with mental health issues visit outpatients to see a doctor, only to be given pills and sent off on their own, back to the real world without support other than medication.
“People need more than medication, they need ongoing support,” he said. “Through the CMHA, the programs they offer are critical.”
He said there’s often a long gap between seeing professionals, and those programs through the CMHA can be extremely beneficial while someone is waiting to be seen.
“Connectivity has been proven to be quite effective to somebody with mental illness,” he said.
“Waiting to go back to see someone is most difficult. The CMHA has been life changing for me, and lifesaving. The CMHA is invaluable and vital to the people in the community.”
For information on how you can donate to the building campaign, drop into the current at 574 Prince St., or call 902-895-4211.