CHA symposium a focus on mental health

By Jake Davies - West Carleton Online

CARP – Roughly 15 people attended Saturday’s (Feb. 3) Carp Health Access (CHA) Mental Health Symposium, focusing on the challenges of mental health in a rural setting.

The symposium featured four mental health experts, two who call Carp home, including registered psychotherapist Focus Forward Therapy Group’s Christine Harrison, Dr. Jennifer Barnes from Rainbows and Storms Psychology, anxiety nutritionist Taylor Grendon and Dare to be Vulnerable Project founder Susan Blain.

The morning long, free symposium, held at the Carp Mess Hall, was brought to the community by CHA with the help of the Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre (WOCRC) and the West Carleton Family Health Team (WCFHT).

“Today’s focus was bringing awareness to mental health,” Carp’s Harrison told West Carleton Online shortly after the symposium wrapped up. “We had a couple of different lenses. I always like to start with the foundation our mental health is our eating, sleeping and our moving. So, Taylor here was talking about gut health and anxiety; we had Susan Blain talking about vulnerability and mental health in the workplace; and we introduced Dr. Jennifer Barnes who does psychological assessments in the community; and myself, I talked about cognitive behavioural therapy and a basic understanding of it, and we learned a little bit about stress.”

Harrison said having local professionals lead the symposium was important for those in attendance.

“Two of the speakers are from Carp, Dr. Barnes and I have practices here in Carp,” Harrison said. “Taylor has an online platform which means it touches everybody, and Susan also works directly in the community and has no specific boundaries, because mental health touches everybody’s workplace.”

Harrison said those in attendance were engaged in the symposium all morning.

“Everybody was great,” Harrison said. “There were some really great questions and one of the things that came up is we have a lot of caregivers in West Carleton, and you really do need to care for yourself to be able to care for others.”

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