What is your role within COAST?
I am a clinical partner on the COAST team.
Tell us about your career – how long you have been in your profession and/or with your current organization?
I have worked as a nurse for more than 20 years, mostly with community and mental health crisis programs such as Centralized Emergency Psychiatric Services (CEPS) at London Health Sciences Centre, as well as the former London Crisis Center (now the Reach Out program though CMHA.) I have been employed at St. Joseph’s Health Care London for approximately 11 years, working primarily within an Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team.
What interested you about working on the COAST team?
I have always enjoyed working in mental health support/crisis programs and recently completed a term as Chair of the Registered Nursing Association of Ontario’s (RNAO) Mental Health Nursing Interest Group so was looking for a new endeavor. In addition, I participated in the development of RNAO’s Best Practice Guidelines regarding crisis intervention for adults, which was extremely rewarding. Working with COAST will allow to give back to the community by utilizing the intervention skills and knowledge I have developed over the years.
What benefits do you hope this program will provide to the community and to vulnerable populations?
I would like to see people with mental health challenges, who may have previously ‘fallen through the cracks’ of our health care system, become more engaged in services that meet their needs. It is our hope that this program will help to address gaps in service for those individuals. I would also like to see a strengthening of partnerships within our community organizations. My goal is to assist our community partners deal with situations they may not have been trained to respond to, by pooling together our knowledge and resources. In addition, the COAST program is also focused on ways to decrease the stigma surrounding mental illness.
What do you do to support your own mental health and wellness?
The first thing that comes to my mind is my dog Alice; she has been my tether during these difficult pandemic times. I also enjoy gardening and have been improving my cooking skills. In addition, I am still heavily involved with the Mental Health Nursing Interest Group though the RNAO Board as past Chair, and as a membership and education officer.